Monday, March 1, 2010

"It's a metaphor... wrapped in an allegory."

Why can’t I read a novel in peace?

Just once, I would like to read without analyzing. Take this new novel I’m reading, for instance. It was made into a movie based off of the book. I recently watched the movie. Aside from the constant comparisons and cross-referencing I’m doing between the two, I’m also wondering why the author chose to make everyone his or her own narrator, albeit in third person, which still makes you wonder who the "real" narrator is (an approach that confuses me) but also made one character the omnipotent super-narrator (which just makes her look too busybody-ish to me).

My years of training at the university taught me this, you know. And old habits hang on with a white-knuckled grip, you know.

Maybe that’s why I like movies. Usually there is no need for a narrator. The viewer is the narrator – figuring things out as they go along and making sense of them on her own. And in those uncommon times narration is provided – in the form of a voiceover – it’s usually unobtrusive and feels helpful.

Not so in reading. A know-it-all narrator is always provided and thus authors walk the fine line of having their readers either love or hate their narrator. One of the first things they ask you in Deconstructing Literature 101 is “who is our narrator?” followed closely with “why do you think the author chose this approach?”. The first time this vein of analysis took place I was at MCC in ENG 200 and we were discussing the role of Nick in The Great Gatsby. I've always hated that book. Seriously, folks. It still haunts me 11 years later. . .

[The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (TV)]

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