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Novelist's corner

Discussion in 'Book club' started by In_You_Go_Jones, Jan 3, 2011.

  1. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Can I enter my chocolate cake recipe?
  2. 'Chocolate' has too many syllables.
  3. I wouldn't worry.
    It will only be a life-changing experience in philosophy/literature in that in sets a new low, even by the standards of Jeffrey Archer.
    It does, but she's just had a night of rumpy pumpy and is taking him something to keep his strength up so romance might be in order. She could take him voluptuous mouthfuls of brioche ooozing with sugary ripe fruit, torn hungrily from a soft, yielding loaf and dribbling with rich, heady black coffee. Or maybe a pop tart and some Nescafe.
  4. As should any other word whose meaning you obviously don't know.
  5. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Chocklit then.
  6. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    *Goes back to editing*
    Not in 1969 she couldn't.[​IMG]
  7. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    You could do a low calorie version

  8. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    A slim volume then?
  9. Think Nigella. [​IMG]
  10. Burndenpark

    Burndenpark Star commenter

    well certainly not weighty.

    Actually I think this is part of the reason I don't think Gene could ever seriously hope to be a writer- he doesn't have a love of words and wordplay. He just wants, inexplicably, to come across as an intellectual though he is incapable of playing with ideas and concepts which I would have thought were a sure sign of having a working intellect.
  11. Really hungry now.
    Would love a big slab of brioche, or some chock-lit.
  12. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

  13. I said chock-LIT.
  14. lapinrose

    lapinrose Star commenter

    Excellent book, the film's good as well.
  15. Well, what do you know?
    Our English teacher apologised to us to today for subjecting us to what he called that "fearful piece of bilge" we had to write about on Friday, Turns out it was by the caretaker, who'd filled him up with beer in Wetherspoon's the other week and got him to do it for a bet. Apparently his problem goes back a long way - he used to pose as a teacher on this forum but he got found out and shown up so often he became a sort of running joke. And ever since then he keeps trying to join in intellectual discussions, or pretends to be a writer and stuff like that, except he's completely out of his depth. Not so much delusions of grandeur, our teacher said, as delusions of adequacy. Sad really.
    One thing I do know though is that Mr Jones is making up all the extracts he's printing that he reckons came from our class. No one had a good word to say for what he wrote [if he did write it, that is - our English teacher said he's always getting into trouble for plagiarising stuff as well].
    It's a worry though, having blokes like him around kids. I mean, what is going on in his head? If he thinks anyone believes this boloney he's making up then I don't know if he can be the full shilling. What with that and the dirty mac aspect I think we've got a lot to worry about.
  16. Oh, and another thing. Apparently this Jones bloke reckons to be an expert on James Joyce.
    Odd that he didn't recognise my avatar picture then, isn't it?
    Don't suppose I'll be posting again as it doesn't look as if Mr Jones is going to tell me where he got that about Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch from. He probably made that up as well come to think of it.
  17. <u>And yet another snippet</u>
    I would like to consider this passage alongside some feminist explorations of James Joyce's wonderful story, THE DEAD - to which it bears solid resemblance.
    There has been surprisingly little critical attention paid to Gothicism in James Joyce's short story "The Dead" (1907). Although it may not be a Gothic text per se - like, for example, Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" - "The Dead" clearly contains many Gothic themes and motifs.1 The time of the tale is Yuletide, the traditional season for telling ghost stories (compare Dickens's "A Christmas Carol"). The initial setting is described as the "dark gaunt house on Usher's Island" (Dubliners 176). Granted that this house has a real-world source in the home of Joyce's great aunts who lived at 15 Usher's Island" (Ellmann 245), it is Joyce who attaches the adjectives "dark" and "gaunt" to the address, thus causing it to resonate with Poe's Gothic "House of Usher." The scene of Gabriel and Gretta Conroy's arrival at the Misses Morkan's Christmas party also has obvious Gothic overtones:
    -O, Mr Conroy, said Lily to Gabriel when she opened the door for him, Miss Kate and Miss Julia thought you were never coming. Good-night, Mrs Conroy.
    -I'll engage they did, said Gabriel, but they forgot that my wife here takes three mortal hours to dress herself . . .
    Kate and Julia came toddling down the dark stairs at once. Both of them kissed Gabriel's wife, and said she must be perished alive and asked was Gabriel with her.
    Here I am as right as the mail, Aunt Kate! Go on up. I'll follow, called out Gabriel from the dark. (176-77; emphasis added)
    Dark phrases such as "three mortal hours" and "perished alive" have led a number of critics to suggest that the Morkan's party is a dance of the dead (one thinks again of Poe, his "Mask of the Red Death").(2) And if the fleshly guests at this party are all moribund-either literally or figuratively themselves surrounded by a host of lively ghosts. John Kelleher has suggested that the Morkans' party is haunted by many a notable ex-Irishman, and in her essay. "The Ectoplasmic Truthtellers of |The Dead,'" Janet Egleson Dunleavy argues that the third-person narrator of Joyce's story is in actuality four narrators, and that all of these are ghosts.3 The most distinct of Joyce's shades, of course, is Gretta's first love, Michael Furey, who comes back at the end of the story to haunt her husband: "A vague terror seized Gabriel . . . as if . . . some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its vague world" (220). We can see in this passage and the one that follows the Gothic theme of Confusion of Realms, especially the realms of life and death: "His [Gabriel's] soul had approached that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead. . . . His own identity was fading out into a grey impalpable world: the solid world itself which these dead had one time reared and lived in was dissolving and dwindling" (223). Finally, Gabriel's terminal "snow epiphany," the focus of so much critical controversy, can be seen as a variation on the Gothic theme of Live Burial:(4)
    The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. . . . It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly, as dead. (223-24)
    The Dark, the Castle, Ghosts, Terror, Confusion of Realms, Live Burial - one could go on identifying Gothic motifs and characters in Joyce's story. In short, the author's knowledge of Gothicism manifests itself on every page.(5)
    The above analysis leads to an obvious question: how does Gothicism function in Joyce's story? One of the few readers to hint at an answer is Sheldon Brivic. In arguing against an optimistic reading of Gabriel's epiphany - that is, a reading that discovers in the story's conclusion evidence of Gabriel's escape from moral paralysis(6) - Brivic implies that Joyce incorporates Gothic motifs simply to underscore the darkness of his vision: "'The Dead' is a Gothic story of walking corpses, and its few images of regeneration, such as the cross and thorns in a graveyard on the last page, are ironic and hardly more hopeful than the rebirth of Dracula" (88). Brivic's reading, I think, reveals a woefully inadequate understanding of the Gothic, its history and function in our culture. That the Gothic actually works to support an affirmative ending to Joyce's story, that it does indeed contribute to a theme of regeneration and rebirth, is what I want to argue in this essay. To do this adequately, though, I must first consider recent theories of the relation between Gothicism and feminism.
    In the past few years a number of literary theorists have argued that the Gothic tradition is not only female(7) - i.e., consists of novels composed mostly by and for women - but also feminist, or subversive of patriarchal culture. Kate Ferguson Ellis, for example, while recognizing that the Gothic does construct and reinforce bourgeois gender relations (the typical Marxist view), also asserts that it deconstructs those relations through a subversive feminist remainder. Thus "the Gothic novel of the eighteenth century foregrounded the home as fortress, while at the same time exposing ites contradictions" (xi). Ellis goes on to observe that the feminist subtext of the Gothic did not escape the notice of its early male critics, who reacted by disparaging the form, calling it vulgar" or low" - as low, that is, as woman herself. Bradford K. Mudge takes up this thread of Ellis's argument:
    The reviewers insisted that the debate about good and bad novels remains inextricable from definitions of good and bad women. As a result, Gothic fiction was depicted both as prostituting itself to popular taste and as embodying aesthetic diseases capable of infecting the body politic. (98)
    One is reminded of Virginia Woolf's comment in A Room of One's Own about the male response to the suffrage campaign: "And when one is challenged, even by a few women in black bonnets, one retaliates, if one has never been challenged before, rather excessively" (103). The excessiveness of the male response to the Gothic is symptomatic, revelatory of the threat these novels posed to the bourgeois world view and order.
    Given that "The Dead" is informed by Gothicism, is it also informed by the feminist Gothic critique? Joyce's story has in fact been read as feminist. Margot Norris detects in "The Dead" a rhetorical strategy that is "less a politically correct representation of woman than a representation of the occlusional practices that contort the representation of the female according to the ideological requirements of a patriarchal agenda" (484). The "occlusional practices" to which Norris refers arc the practices of modern aestheticism; she believes that Joyce's story offers an anti-aesthetic, that it uses the "politics of gender to conduct his self-critique of art in the story" (482). This vision of Joyce's art is very similar to what Ellis argues the Gothic does: it offers a critique of its aesthetical surtext through its feminist subtext. Could it be that Brivic, in his dismissal of the Gothic text of "The Dead" as trivial, perceives only the romantic surface text and not the subversive feminist remainder? Let us consider the feminist argument of "The Dead" alongside its Gothic argument to see if the two do indeed converge.
    Tilly Eggers, a feminist critic, has noted that Joyce's story is "structured on a series of challenges by individual women to Gabriel's conventional perceptions of women" (379).8 By "conventional perceptions" we understand the standard perceptions of the Enlightenment male-in this case Gabriel Conroy, smug bourgeois paterfamilias. The women to whom Eggers refers are the servant girl Lily, Gabriel's teaching colleague Miss Ivors, and finally Gabriel's wife Gretta. Lily, "the caretaker's daughter," is approached by the higher-class Gabriel in a patronizing way, probably with an eye to flirtation or even seduction: "Gabriel smiled . . . and glanced at her. She was a slim, growing girl. . . . [He] listened for a moment to the piano and then glanced at the girl" (177). This scene reproduces a common Gothic one: an aristocratic villain menaces a vulnerable girl, threatens her with abduction, confinement and rape. Joyce, however, turns the tables on his "monster." When Gabriel inquires of Lily if she intends to marry soon, she responds "with great bitterness" that [t]he men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you" (178). Clearly, if Lily finds herself in the same unhappy predicament as the Lass of Aughrim - that is, pregnant out of wedlock (as Norris has suggested [495]) - she does not respond in the same way as her precursor. Rather than pleading with her seducer to show compassion, Lily lashes back violently at the offending male, and Gabriel feels the sting: "He was discomposed by the girl's bitter and sudden retort. It had cast a gloom over him which he tried to dispel by arranging his cuffs and the bows of his tie" (179). When Aunt Kate later remarks of Lily "She's not the girl she was at all" (181), Joyce may be hinting not only at the girl's pregnancy, but also her difference from the pathetic Lass, who is after all a Gothic (male) fantasy of the Victimized Woman.

    Germaine Tilly Dworkin-Greer
  18. Dear In You Go,
    I'm sorry to hear your memory's playing up. I'm sorry its so bad you haven't even remembered to read back what was written earlier on in this discussion. It was you who thought fin de siecle referred to the date the work was written. Actually, you plagiarised a definition of fin de siecle from the National Gallery website and were confused about the difference between Art Nouveau and literature. I helpfully pointed out that fin de siecle refers to the style or mood of a work and Joyce is unmistakably modernist to even the most untrained eye but after that all you wrote was POST NO MORE. Your learned analyses of Dubliners consisted of a link to an article you found on the internet. Then you said I hadn't Dubliners when I disagreed with you.
    You have a rare talent In You Go but it isn't for writing or literary criticism.
    I'll leave others to work out what it is.


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