Stunning, absolutely stunning. That last page somehow keeps the subjects fixed, while at the same time you can see all the nested versions, containedStunning, absolutely stunning. That last page somehow keeps the subjects fixed, while at the same time you can see all the nested versions, contained yet projecting forwards, without significant thematic changes.
"Reading too many novels makes you go blind." pg. 363. The whole story (stories) contains these little bits, endlessly. Less are independent as this one, most are these tiny little details (the most obvious being the tattoo on the shoulder) that you read through, stop, back up and read again, and then sit with for a moment as the immensity of the bit dawns upon you. Its like that quote, (not in this book) "history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes" executed perfectly and brilliantly.
I was forever writing down words and references to things I missed allusions to or definitions of, and so this book most definitely necessitates a return visit from me. I doubt that it will get anything but better when I return to the stories....more
I can't believe I didn't know about this book or this series earlier, and now I've collected all but the fifth book and I'm scrambling through them. AI can't believe I didn't know about this book or this series earlier, and now I've collected all but the fifth book and I'm scrambling through them. Absolutely incredible, I thought The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo read fast (it absolutely did) but the pace I set through this one left Steig chewing dust. My first book in 2012 might very well stand as my favorite, as I see it....more
I decided to reread The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Its a tremendous novella, and reading it has driven me to return(cross-posted from my blog)
I decided to reread The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. Its a tremendous novella, and reading it has driven me to return to my old class notes and materials that I've wisely kept. I always felt weird, sorting through my school notes and finding that there were large portions I wanted to hold onto, without knowing why. Its great to go back through them, for sure, and I hope that I'll be able to continue doing that and working both on this blog and into my new notes, to reach new understandings and developments in response to literature, and so on.
This post is mostly derived from lecture notes about the book, but I'll fill it out with my own reflections, as the book is again fresh in my mind.
To start: Henry James wrote The Turn of the Screw in what's called his late prose style. Its characterized by long, convoluted sentences in thick paragraphs, and this is why an 80 page text took me about two weeks to work through, albeit I wasn't working very steadily on it. James was dictating the book, and that's part of why its written this way, but his long winded prose also tends toward obfuscation, an unusual quality for a book in any other genre than the one that this rests in. The writing seems to withhold information at times – it never really settles down, as Edmund Wilson notes (I'll get to him more later), and decides to present an objective truth to the images presented. This suspension creates, further, a murky atmosphere of anxiety, which is built right into the narration.
The main character of the text (and the narrator of it for the frame story as her story is read aloud) is the governess, also the only central character who does not have a name. She's sent to the house at Bly to care for two children, Flora and Miles. She quickly becomes quite possessive of them, and almost constantly anxious, repeating in her narration that she worries for their sake. She's an outsider, literally to the people of Bly as well as in terms of class – a detail that notes this is how before arriving she had never before seen herself in a mirror. (I should note that a lot of these points are from a lecture giving by one of my very favorite teachers while at Cal - Professor Serpell. This class was called the Literary Theory Monster, and if you happen to be a Cal student I'd say that class was easily among the best I've taken, although I'm sure any class taught by her would be superb) The governess frames herself as a heroine, protecting the children from spiritual evil, even when such claims stretch to their limits. She sees herself as a martyr and sets herself up to be one.
I'm excited to be getting back into this fascinating world of Henry James, and I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in literary theory, getting muddled up in seemingly endless cyclical complexities, or simply a good story that has an uncanny way of sticking around in one's mind....more
The Moon is Down was a surprise for me. I just finished The Winter of Our Discontent, and had this next title in my bag. I'd give it a look, and thenThe Moon is Down was a surprise for me. I just finished The Winter of Our Discontent, and had this next title in my bag. I'd give it a look, and then probably take it back to my place and swap it with something else, like Libra, the Don Delillo I've started and been meaning to get back to.
I ended up finishing this one by the next day. Its a book unlike most Steinbeck, similar really only to Of Mice and Men in its ability to fix readers, grasping hold until the last page is turned. This book is stunning.
It was also the most popular book of the Axis-conquered and occupied countries during World War Two. It was spread by underground movements in Norway, Denmark, Holland, Italy, and many other countries, and in some places being found with a copy was punishable by death. This is because Steinbeck, contributing what he could to the war effort, tried to imagine what it would be like if a town of ordinary people came to be occupied by soldiers. The key part of this literary thought experiment is that the soldiers are ordinary people too, and we get to see that in this book in a way that other piece of propaganda was willing or capable of presenting. The result is a novel, short and intense, realistic and harsh. Steinbeck's original idea, to have a fictional enemy occupy an everyday American town, was thrown out because it would give light to the possibility of an American defeat. He changed the setting to a small Nordic town, and gave hope and inspiration to people in resistance to occupation across Europe....more