RSS

Tag Archives: authors

One big happy family

Almost as interesting as the literary connections we’re making on this classical journey are the ties between authors.  It’s almost as if they are one big happy family.  Well, more of a dysfunctional family, but you get the idea.

There was the friendship of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne that resulted in Moby-Dick being dedicated to The Scarlet Letter‘s author.

Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain were neighbors.

Now thanks to the intro of Invisible Man, I learned that Ralph Ellison tried his hand at writing all thanks to Richard Wright of Native Son fame.

Imagine all of our WEM authors sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner together.  I can hear the table talk now.

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Invisible Man

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Don Quixote, Christian, and Ishmael Walk Onto a Boat

About ten months ago Jeannette, Christine, and I were sitting in Panera having our first ever official book outing.  We were at the midway point of Don Quixote, and more than a little perplexed about what exactly we were supposed to be learning from reading the adventures of this crazed knight errant.

Then an “Aha!” moment struck.  Maybe it wasn’t just about DQ.  In fact, maybe we just needed to lay DQ as our foundation, and then later we would be able to come back to him and say, in our best snooty, overly-educated tones, “Ah, yes.  Well, if you compare this author’s approach to that of Cervantes you will plainly see that . . .”It seemed like a long shot, but at the time it was all we had, because as mothers we’d already dealt with our share of potty language, imaginary giants, and cardboard costumes.  We were looking for something more.

Well folks, it’s been happening, have you noticed?  Our authors are talking about each other, referring to other classics, building upon the past, and none more than Melville.  Here’s the end of Chapter 26:

Bear me out in it, thou great democratic God!  who didst not refuse to the swart convict, Bunyan, the pale, poetic pearl; Thou who didst clothe with doubly hammered leaves of finest gold, the stumped and paupered arm of old Cervantes; Thou who didst pick up Andrew Jackson from the pebbles; . . .

Okay, I’ll stop there, because I don’t know anything about Andrew Jackson.  But, Bunyan and Cervantes?  Those are our guys!

It seems that Melville has switched in this chapter from first person narrative by Ishmael, to an omnipotent author who gives us not only backgrounds on multiple characters, but also his own philosophical statements.
Here we get a little peak into Melville’s life as a writer.  This plea to a “democratic God” is for himself, that he may be given the ability to produce a culture shifting story, the likes of Don Quixote or Pilgrim’s Progress. Melville, a mere 30-something American is hoping to create characters that begin as the every-man and end as the men every man remembers.

Then again, maybe this is Ishmael’s voice begging the “Spirit of Equality” to make him, and the motley crew of the Pequod heroes in their own right – to elevate the common with a chivalrous pilgrimage toward the destruction of evil.

I don’t know, it seems my own snooty voice is rather indecisive about this whole mess.  Please weigh in with your own.

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Miss Bennet, meet Miss Austen. Miss Austen, Miss Bennet.

Jane.

I’ve always loved the name.  So simple, yet rich, and dignified, and sweet.  So, well, Miss Bennet.  Or do I mean Miss Austen?  It must be time to pull out the Stupid Question category again.

When giving a character in your novel your own name you are declaring:

a)  you don’t have the creative energy necessary to come up with another name.
b)  this person is semi-autobiographical.
c)  that the characters in your novel are so far removed from your personal experience as an author that you can share a name with no further thought.
d)  nothing, so stop thinking about it.
e)  other.  Please specify.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Pride and Prejudice

 

Tags: , , , ,