Friday, March 14, 2008

The Teller of the Tale

1. Who's telling the story? From what source or sources does the account come? Was it a witness to the events or the actual participant?

2. Why is the story being told? To entertain? To assign some measure of accountability? (Mea culpa? Youa culpa?) To demonstrate a philosophy? To set the record straight? (What record?) To justify? (Defend?)

3. Who was your favorite historian?

4. Yeah, I know Francis Parkman was cool, but Herodotus, man. He like invented history.

5. So you're saying Thyucidides was like Tom Clancy? Like was he not scientific and fact-oriented enough for you?

6. Well there you have it, two visions of events, each wanting to get the details, each mad for accurate information.

7. Herodotus is by minor degree more to my liking because he was looking for the kinds of thing I look for in a story, a moral.

8. What was Balzac looking for?

9. Fabric, man, the fabric of humanity--all of it. Eugenie Grandet. Le Pere Goriot. Balzac was writing his way out of some pseudonymous on-the-job training, working his way to IT, his vision of a particular history of a particular place at a particular time, which just happened to transcend the place and the time so that you could see that someone had lifted a larg rock in the backyard and all the insects began scurrying.

10. Writer as historian, huh? What about these dudes--ladies, too--who invent history?

11. You mean, of course, those who are reporting events that never happened as though they did happen, then call them history instead of fiction?

12. Those. They are misguided, looking for a free ride, which is like the free lunch. Readers don't want to be cheated, they want to be engaged to the point of trusting the source.

13. What about Italo Calvino in If on a winter's night a traveler...

14. He clearly does not want to mislead; he wants to make the reader think to the point of questioning the very basis of reality.

15. Let me see if I get this. Disturb is okay, betrayal is out.

16. Disturb rocks. Absent disturbance, entertain is okay.


R.L. Bourges said...

13. A la différence d'Italo Calvino, moi, je ne serai jamais publiée. L'Europe vous salue.

Unknown said...

Remind me next Fall that I really should put a Lit. class in my roster of courses.

lettuce said...

do you like David Lodge? i was discussing "Thinks" in a book group this week and this post brought to mind the way he plays, in that book, with voices

x said...

Motivation of the narrator? I personally enjoy the manipulative liars trying to make themselves look good completely transparently and comedically. I wish there were more of them.