Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Possible Synthesis?

Yesterday I came here when it was all but barren, untouched land and tried to write down something worth something, but felt bemused and lost at where to begin. As it has been pointed out, there are many elements of the texts we have read that can be pointed to and pounded out that connect the novels into a more thematic narrative of 20th century literary experimentalism. In reviewing the posts, I thought I might direct my attention towards a connection I feel might exist between what Sam F. said and what Brad said.

Brad talks about the experimental nature of many of the texts we read lying partially in the narrators' unreliability, a characteristic that is well shown as existing across the spectrum of texts. The unreliable quality of the narrator in books such as Molloy, The Golden Notebook, Never Let Me Go, Crash, and Loving have all been discussed in class in a way that lead to Brad's further conclusive notion--that the unreliability of the narrator echoes out and question the reliability of the novel itself, its form, its fiction, and its purpose.
Sam, meanwhile, brings up the British aspect of the course (it took me a few books to realize that these weren't all set in Conway), and how the books or narrators--especially the latter half that we encountered in the course--express a dissatisfaction/disillusionment with "Britishness," its coldness, its ominous powers of technology and unfeeling alienation. I like the historical context Sam puts this into, the crumbling empire of Britain in the 20th century; after the Waves, there is an implicit feeling of decline or at least deviation, as well as an increased amount of violence in the modern world that disturbs one's belief that modernity is a progression.

I think there is a definite link between these two ideas--similar to, perhaps, Laing's quotations of madness. That we receive unreliable narrators in a stagnating, degenerating society does not seem surprising; as Laing tells us, madness is the only thing that actually makes sense in a world that is shown to be mad itself. The inconsistencies of the narrators oftentimes have carried hints of madness in them--Anna, other Anna, Molloy, Ballard--that in ways speak to/against the environments around them. Even in Women in Love, the ways in which characters such as Birkin and Gudrun behave seem like rebellions against the flaws of their immediate society. Gudrun especially, in all the disgust she expresses with the people and the environment around her, seems like a reactionary character, formed from malcontent. The discontent these authors seem to feel toward Britain and modern society is expressed experimentally through the unreliability of the characters, who may serve both  as reverberations of the British disillusionment or as subversive critics of it.

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