Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where now?

You did not think Viktor Shklovsky mattered to you all that much before you wandered into Chaucer's Books, but when you saw a still unshelved book, Bowstring:  On the Dissimilarity of the Similar, you knew he did matter and that you had to have the book.

It has been that way with books of late, a sort of hunger that in reality cannot be sated.  When the circumstances arose to launch your move from Hot Springs Road to here, you gulped a few times, then set a limit of one hundred books you would bring with you.  At just about six months residency here on East Sola Street, you have at least a hundred books in the kitchen, not to mention those in the large studio room nor indeed the art books stacked atop the cabinet that houses the heating unit.

From the get-go, you are not a fan of literary theory; it is far from your favorite course to teach even though you do enjoy the effect on students when you move from Marxist theory over to feminism.  To that effect, one of the more recent of books to have appeared at Sola Street is the new Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right, which you plan on converting into an essay for a booklength project about the nature of character in American fiction.

It is probably not as accidental as you'd like to believe that you are drawn to to noted Russian literary critics, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Viktor Shkolovsky being uppermost because of the way they view text, the intent of text, and their visions of theme and hidden agenda within text.  Had you become an academic, you would have spent considerable time digesting their work and the intent of their work.  As it is, you are, mercifully, not an academic and you have spent considerable time with the American critic, Leslie A. Fiedler.

The Shkolovsky work you brought home deals with the contrarist, the person who is out of place, does not belong where he is (almost reminds you of some Hawthorne, right?) and now he must search for meaning.

In books, there are arguments, occasional conversations, and conundrums that lead you by the nose of curiosity.  You read to embark on conversations with authors and their creations, ideas and characters (who are after all nothing more than ideas in costumes, eager to cover up a tragic flaw).

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