Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finishing Blithedale and Beginning Joaquin Murieta

To start this post, I want to look one more time at the Blithedale Romance. To me, I saw the story as one of the self-destructive nature of secrets and holding back. What I mean by this is that it seems all harm to the characters could always be traced back to something they had hidden or refused to say. The more the characters hold back, the worse they end up. Again, this can be traced back to the veil imagery, I suppose. After all, the veil also represents what is hidden. We also see the move away from the natural world as destructive in Zenobia, as bested represented by her change in flower.

If we view truth as back of Hawthorne's idea of the natural world (something I believe a fair assumption), than it all ties back into how Blithedale was doomed to fail from the start, because the people involved refused to truly accept the natural world. It seems the majority of the time people are talking, it is talking about things outside nature. In this case, then, it makes me wonder if Silas Foster could be considered an ideal. He is more accepting of his surrounding, and seems unphased by the superficial idea of rank. It is hard to say for sure, I suppose, exactly what Hawthorne intended exactly.

Now, onto our new reading, Joaquin Muirieta by John Rollin Ridge. I must confess, I am having great difficulty reading this one. They don't write 'em like this anymore, and for good reason in my opinion. It is not uncommon to see a three to four page paragraph. It's like asking someone to tell you a story and you see them taking that deep breath that says it's going to be a really long one and they don't intend to even pause. The details all blur, no pauses in between to give them contrast. I have read the first 30 or so pages twice, and all I really understand is that there is a bandit named Joaquin, he has a gang, and he has a grudge against Americans. I have a vague idea why, but beyond that I'm lost. I have a feeling that if such a book was submitted to an editor today, it would have to be thoroughly reworked before it would be even considered.

Maybe attention spans have changed. Maybe this style was acceptable back in its time. I don't know for sure. I just know it gives me a bit of a headache trying to read it, and I just end up all confused. Maybe its the style of writing. There is minimal dialogue, minimal specific detail. It feels a bit like a really energetic person showing me their vacation slides. I'm just getting snapshots, maybe just a detail or two, and just before I can settle we're onto the next slide without a breath to waste. Anyone else have this much trouble reading this thing?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Blithedale Romance (week 1)

I'll start off by saying that I was pleasantly surprised. I have never particularly enjoyed romance novels, finding them often dry and the characters rather flat, but I find myself drawn in on this story. There were a number of things that most likely contributed to this.

I found myself surprised by the feminist parts of the story. Doubly so because of the back of this book, which describes it as "suggestive and often erotic." While I am sure the nature of that word has changed over time, I find it often used in relation to works that debase the characters into sexual creatures as opposed to thinking individuals. Perhaps it is the nature of how the line of what we would consider suggestive has moved over the past hundred years, as it is possible that "suggestive and often erotic" might well have described this book a century and a half ago. However, I feel it is a bit of an injustice to the writer for the synopsis of the book to focus on such an idea.

All that out of the way, I feel the need to talk a little about the writing itself, as opposed to the themes within the writing. In many ways, I had a harder time in the beginning reading this then I did several old english works, like "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight." I think this has to do with how little has changed in 150 years. I find myself constantly having to re-evaluate the words, and recognize the context is slightly different, giving these words a new meaning (or old meaning, as the case may be). However, I found myself also more drawn in by the story as the same time because the use of language encouraged a more active form of reading than I am used to. Because of the complexity of many of the ideas presented along with the level of vocabulary used, I found I was unable to take the story lightly. This in turn forced an emotional, alongside intellectual, investment in the story and characters.

On a more personal note, I was impressed how well the author was able to convey the emotional sense of the story during the chapters of the fight, following the fight, and the melancholy chapters in the hotel. I found my emotional state reading those chapters often mirrored the narrator's. Especially after the fight. I look forward to finishing the book in the next few days.

First Post

So, a little about myself first. I have often considered myself a writer, from a very young age. However, I often find myself questioning if I am a writer of this age. In many ways, I find older works comforting. I often understand the language better, find the meaning clearer. Perhaps it has to do with audience. Modern works is dumbed down, intended for the massed, while older works have no such concerns. I fear I am rambling at this point, however, so I will move on.

I have never written on a blog before. For all my talk of technology and love of new gadgets, I have been hesitant to adapt to such techniques. With this in mind, I would be appreciative if I am doing something silly, as far as blogging goes. No matter how skilled one gets, one's pen can never be too sharp, so to speak. All this will be something new for me, and I look forward to it. I just hope other people find what I have to say atleast a little interesting.