SPOILER WARNING: Content post re 1:L
- Dear Co-Readers,
(Boy, do I feel silly even t r y i n g to write a letter now!) Anyway, I
think I have to RESET So good to be reading Barth again, a relief after
Pynchon! Not that "Gravity's Rainbow" wasn't pleasant, but as far as
readability goes, there is no doubt that JB gets the prize. If they are two
separate writers, of course, which theory - as yet not convinved by Mal to
the contrary - I uphold and keep finding more and more evidence for.
No matter: on with the story.
May I? I believe I may, since it's July 1, the appointed date.
Call me unobservant and altogether on the slow side, but it was only after
reading about three fourths of 1:L and forever checking back to the opening
page that I noticed that the way the epistles are ordered on the calendar is
actually the letter L! Superfluous attention to a detail that you've
probably all noticed right at the start, yes, well. But thanks to that I
noted that the temporal direction of the epistles is backwards - from the
8th of March 1969 back to the "2nd" where "now" is questioned - and then it
surges forward with incredible energy, to March 16th and 23rd 1969. It is I
think in keeping with what the Author says in the closing lines of his
letter to Whom It May Concern: "like waves of a rising tide, the plot will
surge forward, recede, surge farther forward, recede less far, et cetera to
its climax and denouement." (p.49)
Yet another interesting thing happens with the time in this bit: the 5th of
March (A.B.Cook IV to his unborn child) happens obediently between the 6th
and the 4th, but it is March 5, 1812 and since it's the Second Revolutions
that are central to the novel, as we are informed, this date is quite
important - and more so, because the character of Marylandiad mentioned in
The Author to Whom It May Concern "would live the first half of his life in
the first three dozen years of the republic (say, 1776-1812) and the second
half in its "last" (say, 1940-1976)". Ontogeny Recapitulates Phylogeny (at
the expense of History, though, in this case at least) - I'd rephrase it in
the spirit which to me is more Barthian - Ontogeny Can Be Made to
Recapitulate Phylogeny, Q.E.D. So the first links between the two historical
periods are established.
Back to the letter L in the calendar: A through G downwards, but INE at the
bend. All I could think of was G____INE, which I hoped was not too
far-fetched since Lady Amherst promises to be the Muse and Central Character
("Literature Incarnate", "The Story Thus Far") - and since the novel's main
character is probably the Novel or Literature... But then I found out it's
part of the sentence that forms the title and that there is no need for
hangman mysteries this time. Too much Pynchon, perhaps.
Which, through Lady A., brings us to the Characters: the information I read
some time ago to the effect that "the main characters from Barth's six
previous novels and Barth himself write one another letters" has three
mistakes in it, one of them perhaps much graver than the other two. Not all
of the letter-writers are main characters, some are their relatives etc -
and there is one new character. Neither Dunyazade, nor Perseus nor
Bellerophon is present (in person, or Thus Far) - although J.B.Bray appears
to represent both Giles Goat Boy and Chimera, so OK. But but but but BUT -
"Barth himself"? The sub-subtitle tells us of "seven fictitious drolls &
dreamers each of which imagines himself actual" - including The Author,
which is not necessarily the same JB. Even the "fictitious" "Author" (the
suitable number of quotation marks unknown) "for autobiographical >fiction<
(has) only disdain", let alone the "real" JB...
As for the Cook letters, the bone of contention among the Experienced
LETTERS Readers: I found the first one very entertaining - perhaps because I
loved The Sot-Weed Factor and was happy to be reminded of its plot.
So much for now. LETTERS, Thus Far, is very enjoyable - no trace of the
tediousness I've often heard it accused of. Perhaps not deep enough into it
to feel it. Perhaps whoever said it was wrong. Perhaps perhaps something
Shiny happy Kris (hooray for holidays)
PS. I don't get the Worm Moon business - anyone willing to help? I mean is
it JB's invention or a natural phenomenon I know nothing of?
Ten konkurs jest dla Ciebie! [ http://konkursy.onet.pl/emarket2/ ]
- --- In johnbarth@y..., "Kris Majer" <stonk@f...> wrote:
> Dear Co-Readers,<Snip>
> PS. I don't get the Worm Moon business - anyone willing to help? I
> it JB's invention or a natural phenomenon I know nothing of?Because of extraneous circumstance, and to my profound regret, I am
behind just about everyone in this reading.
I'd always bounced through "Worm Moon" thinking, yes, I know what
that means -- a baleful and sinister thin yellow light such as would
be given off by the eye of a malevolent dragon (worm as in e.g.,
"Ourouboros"). But this time, like Kris, I dove into the
dictionaries and such like, and can find no reference. So now I'm
unsure, but will stick to my story until disproved, since it makes a
kind of ghastly sense. And anyway, I'm a big fan of "The Hobbit."
- Kris, you wrote re: the calendrical `L' device and its significance:
>Superfluous attention to a detail that you've probably all noticed right a=t the start, yes, well.
Well, yes (but on the other hand it's not unheard of for me to miss
the broad side of a barn, either: see below). I'm not sure why you
call such attention superfluous.
>[The calendar/title device] is I think in keeping with what the Author say=s in the closing lines of his letter to Whom It May Concern: "like waves of =
a rising tide, the plot will surge forward, recede, surge farther forward, r=
ecede less far, et cetera to its climax and denouement." (p.49)
Very nice. Thanks for pointing that out.
Re: March 5, 1812:
> since it's the Second Revolutions that are central to the novel, as we ar=e informed, this date is quite important
Ah, see already I've missed something "central" (not surprising
a'tall!). Say more about this, Kris I'm lost.
- I don't know why it turned out so mangled. All I did was
paste it from MS Word. Sigh.
Don't E-Mail, ZipMail! http://www.zipmail.com/
- Me say:
>>.since it's the Second Revolutions that are central to the novel, as wear=
>>e informed, this date is quite important.n den Mark say:
>Ah, see already I've missed something "central" (not surprisingTake it easy, Mark. OK, so if I understand correctly, LETTERS itself is to
>a'tall!). Say more about this, Kris - I'm lost.
be the second revolution in novel-writing, the first one being (probably)
its invention - Cervantes? or around that time. The form is to be renewed,
refreshed, RESET. Bonaparte's 100 days have been mentioned quite a lot - his
RETURN, then (Bray talks about that the most, obviously). A.B.Cook is
writing his letters in 1812 - often called the 2nd American Revolution,
right? Perhaps JB says something about it in the 1994 preface to the Dalkey
edition. Many more references to it in the novel, but haven't been taking
notes and am not able to trace them now...
Zaloz swoj elektroniczny portfel
OnetPortfel [ http://portfel.onet.pl/ ]