Posts Tagged ‘modernism’
I just finished Henrik Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea” and WOW is all I can say. A most impressive play and a vast improvement upon one of his earlier works, “A Doll’s House”, my only other interaction with his works. I urge everyone to go out and find a copy of this work, you will not be disappointed. The story focuses on a young woman who feels torn between two worlds, between two different men. I won’t say much more than this as I’d rather not spoil the plot.
One thing to note while reading this is the way in which Ibsen portrays the ego/id and subconscious as a natural and demonic force. The story is set in a small town by a fjord in northern Norway and Ibsen brings the mythology of the sea and of this area into the story, often times creating a sense of fantasy or fairy.
As I expected, Ibsen has presented a passionate and vibrant woman who is consumed by her place in society and the many constraints and restrictions imposed upon her status as a woman.
While the situation that Ellida is placed in is much different from that of Nora’s in “A Doll’s House” I am hoping that his other plays branch out into other areas as this focus on the home and the feminine place in the home, despite its importance and relevance during the turn of the century and now; could easily become a tired convention that is all to common in his work. But I will not know this until I read more of his plays.
According to the introduction to this play written by Michael Meyer, this play most accurately depicts Ibsen’s own biographical interactions with the various women in his life. The play touches on many relationship subjects: the marriage proposal, expectations of the role of the wife, the “marriage contract” and what does that entail all of which Ibsen had some rather soap opera like experiences with.
Well worth your time and money. A brilliant playwright, it is no wonder that Jim felt the urge to learn Norwegian and write a letter to this aging master.
I was in a very Ibsen mood yesterday afternoon, so I picked up a collection of Ibsen plays, coincidentally, they’re the ones you gave me Erin when we were first becoming friends as a Christmas gift. Anyways, I decided to read it in the order in which the collection presents the plays and thus began “The Lady from the Sea”.
I’m almost done with the play and I’ll be writing a review later on this evening. The only Ibsen play that I have read up until this one was “A Doll’s House” for Conley’s Modernist course.
This play is jsut as engaging and enjoyable as the other, yet I’m sensing a theme with Ibsen. He seems very muhc concerned with the plight of the “modern” housewife, the role of the female in the house and in society. One would think that this would lead him to write strong female characters, but from the two plays I’ve read so far, it seems that they are more tragic than strong. But, I guess that is a bit unfair, as Nora’s exit in the last act of “A Doll’s House” is a brave act. Still, this is only after four acts of suffering and patriarchal manipulation. Well, Ibsen would be proud, as Co-founder of the Royal Society of Ibsen, I am sure he’d be much pleased that I’m actively engaging his opus.
“Hey, over here, have your picture taken with a reclusive author! Today only, we’ll throw in a free autograph. But, wait! There’s more!”
Thomas Pynchon is one of my all time favorite authors. That being said, I’ve only finished his novels in a very half-assed sort of way. I’ve read the first one hundred pages of V., his first novel, four times. I’ve read the first 10 pages of Mason&Dixon, twenty or thirty times, and I’ve read his short novella The Crying of Lot 49 in it’s entirety.
- V. (March, 1963).
- The Crying of Lot 49 (27 April, 1966).
- Gravity’s Rainbow (28 February, 1973), 1974 National Book Award for fiction, judges’ unanimous selection for Pulitzer Prize overruled by advisory board, awarded William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1975 (award declined)
- Slow Learner (April, 1984), collection of early short stories
- Vineland (February, 1990)
- Mason & Dixon (30 April, 1997)
- Against the Day (21 November, 2006)
As well as fictional works, Pynchon has written essays, introductions, and reviews addressing subjects as diverse as missile security, the Watts Riots, Luddism and the work of Donald Barthelme. Some of his non-fiction pieces have appeared in the New York Times Book Review and The New York Review of Books, and he has contributed blurbs for books and records. His 1984 Introduction to the Slow Learner collection of early stories is significant for its autobiographical candour. He has written introductions to at least three books, including the 1992 collection of Donald Barthelme‘s stories, The Teachings of Don B. and, more recently, the Penguin Centenary Edition of George Orwell‘s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 2003, and the Penguin Classics edition of Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me written by Pynchon’s close friend, Richard Fariña, and first published in 1966. [ courtesy of Wikipedia ]
The image posted above is from Zak Smith’s monumental art project, “The Illustrated Gravity’s Rainbow”. Click on the image to see more, it is quite beautiful.
What I love about Thomas Pynchon is the way he plays with language. The way he plays with the names of his characters probably being the best example of his tongue in cheek humour.
I’ll share a story with you, my delicate reader, that was shared with me. Professor Conley and I were discussing our mutual love for all things Thomas Pynchon, when he told me about a fellow professor friend of his who had attended a Modernist conference some years back in Chicago. This woman apparently had the most bizarre experience while in attendance. It appears that the organizer of the event, who had specifically created a program that centered around Thomas Pynchon and his many works was missing. Upon further scrutiny of the conference it turns out that none of the Professors, Conference Members, Committee Chairmen, etc, had actually had physical contact with the individual who organized the event. The entire Conference had been planned through e-mail, and post, etc. It turns out that the one hundred professors or so that showed up to this particular hotel were asked to leave shortly after the conference had begun. It turns out that there was some concerns for security, as some type of a threat had been phoned in. It was discovered by a chamber maid that the hotel room of the person who had planned the event, was filled with machine guns, several of them, all registered under the name of the Conference Organizer. Professor Conley, and this other Professor, whom he never offered a name of, well they like to think that this was Thomas Pynchon having a bit of fun at all of his fans expense, shocking the Academic world and making his grand statements in the most Pynchon like way of all, symbols of violence and destruction, throwing in a bit of humor too.
I do not find this story too hard to believe as anyone who goes to such great lengths to avoid the public eye, going so far as to track down all of the extra yearbooks at his high school and ripping out the pages that hold his photograph, well anyone this oddball, this brilliant…well you know what they say, there’s a fine line between genius and madness. I believe that line is littered with machine guns and fake conferences.
While I struggle to read and make sense of much of Pynchon’s work, I will never stop reading his works. I’d recommend picking up any of his works. The best way to read Thomas Pynchon is to just force yourself through, there will be moments where the story or plot will become lost or indecipherable, yet Pynchon recognizes this, it’s part of his method, his madness. I like to think of Pynchon as a motorcycle ride through the wilderness. You don’t always have control of where you’re going, but you know damned well, you’re having the ride of your life!