November 23, 2010
The Window – Evelyn Wilson
Metafiction: a work of fiction that comments implicitly or explicitly upon some
aspect of fiction itself. – novel as a representation of the world.
Interested in it’s status as a realist text.
Emily of New Moon physiological realism
Barometer Rising documentary realism: journalistic facts and evidence—
explosion, how it happened, consequences of it
Documentary realism: the dramatization of events using reportorial details, and
often relying or seeming to rely on historical documents for these details.
Realism: a mode of literature in which the text attempts in someway to represent
life as it ‘really is’. Realist texts often focus on ‘everyday’ people and offer
descriptions that emphasize factual details.
Avoid obvious melodrama, figurative speech, clichés
Tries to be transparent with a realistic plot
Reality: different ways of seeing things – the underlying problem with realism.
The Window as Metafiction
Explores the limits of realism. Pg. 396, first paragraph. Tension between
objective details and subjective uncertainty.
“Great big window” subjective evolution
“segments of something” not omnipotent narrator
Calls our addition to thematic questions: how we weigh of objective reality with
subjective reality? The world doesn’t come to us transparently, always shaped by
Who is doing the looking here?
The Window being attended to right off the bat: self reflexivity
First paragraph continued
“the eye” beyond the bisection to view the wonders
“scenes” and “segments”– self reflexive moment in that
Mr. Willy is the focal point.
“He did not know nor would he care that much discussion went on in his wife’s
Omnipotent narrator vs. Mr. Willy’s narration (in the first paragraph the
narrator is not omniscient—unreliable)
The allusion of omnipotence
Continued theme that appearances are not reality – third paragraph about the
island – vision is being questioned here
Willy sees constellations but it is only the lights from a shopping mall.
New to Vancouver, seeking emancipation
Confined to certain age restrictions and questions of faith, metaphysical
possibility opening up for him.
Catch-22 : he can’t quite handle being on his own or with people
Responsibilities: conforming to a social strata
Two possible choices of meanings: God or other humans
Willy and Sylvia
She is attracted to him because of the opposite aspect of their natures
He is ash and she is fire, a foil character
Inability to reach beyond himself to other people in terms of a “wall”
Sylvia represents a crack in the wall for him
She is at a very different stage in her life: a transitional stage for him
Social possibility doesn’t get him across the wall
A believe that expended beyond the possible world: where the visible world
cannot be seen at all
Willy lives in secular reality: realism does this best
Question: To what extent can realism show the non visible world, experiences
that cannot easily be put into words.
He spies on Mr. Willy from outside of the window.
He comes very close to killing Mr. Willy
Figure of unexpected events, mortality
He is an antagonist but also a foil, draws parallels to Mr. Willy: who styles
himself as a business man who has also run away.
Causes a moment a crisis in his life
He looks in and sees the world as a stage, a show – self reflexivity
This moment they have that causes a profound physic event but they never meet,
exchange words. – suggests the reader, literature relationship – one way
As the robber rushes in and plans to knock Mr. Willy on the head and he sees
himself in the reflection on the window. This man had a fear, that his actions
were being recorded in the reflection of the window – self reflexivity – it is in fact
“Faithfully” being recorded: Mr. Willy has been wondering about God – perhaps
God is watching Mr. Willy in this moment
Use of the mirror her: metaphysical device
“A novel is a mirror traveling down the road” – Stendhal (1830)
Fiction as mimetic—representation of reality
Mr. Willy sees himself in this mirror as a stranger, de-familiarization of reality,
estrange us from reality – re-exam our lives – face to face with mortality
Series of progression where Mr. Willy must analyze his own character
When the robber ran away and Mr. Willy chastises him “damn you, you might
have broken it”
Second paragraph pg 405
Eight times “it” pops up- language is used to show his state of abstraction. No
concrete referent, not referring to anything.
What might have been broken? He must face his own solipsism
Story ends with something that it cannot reveal—it’s own limits of it’s realism
Sylvia sees an ice berg going by and likens it to a freighter
Ernest Hemingway – “I always try to write on the priciple of the iceberg. There is
seven-eights of it underwater for every part that shows.”
February 3rd 2010
Short Fiction in 80s and early 90s
Joy and Mavis Gallant
“Varieties of Exile”
Nationalism and Hybridity
Canadian government started to fund small literary magazines
Even famous author’s publish in small Canadian magazines
Stories that question national belonging
Canada in WWII: exiles from other countries arrive and exile within the country
Born in Montreal, raised in Canada but lives in France: wasn’t known until
“Home Truths” – won Govenor Generals award – “varieties of exile”
How does a person refuse change when they move to a new settlement?
What happens when a person moves to a new place and refuses to think of it as
Montreal is a refuge for people displaced by the war – half realization that all
these common exiles do not like each other very much
Resistance to hybridization
Cultural Hybridity: A cultural identity that is dynamic, interstitial, and
synthetic, not fixed or discrete, and that draws on multiple traditions – Homi
Bhabha The Location of Culture 1994
Every identity is in someway hybrid—rejection of hybridity
Identifying literature by nation does it a disservice
Pay attention to: refugees, immigrants etc.
Exile: to say you are one is to say you are not at home in the place you are
Frank Karnes cannot except his own cultural hybridity – from England now in
Canada – Eurocentric and sense of center margin
Hierarchies of cultural centers – what happens if you are relegated to the
margins? – Frank tries to hold up his cultural end
The end Frank goes to war for Canada but only to go back to England and dies –
Lynette sees this has fidelity to other country
Frank is emblematic: reminds us of ways in which people refuse to recognize
The story starts to have a capacious sense of exile: place (England) and time
(childhood) – nostalgic creates a larger emblematic status
“Adam and Eve” Exiled by their father from paradise by sinning, they stand in
for all humanity – all exiled from childhood and its gold age
Metafiction: a work of fiction that comments implicitly or explicitly upon some aspect of fiction itself. Novel as a representation of the world. Interested in it"s status as a realist text. Barometer rising documentary realism: journalistic facts and evidence explosion, how it happened, consequences of it. Documentary realism: the dramatization of events using reportorial details, and often relying or seeming to rely on historical documents for these details. Realism: a mode of literature in which the text attempts in someway to represent life as it really is". Realist texts often focus on everyday" people and offer descriptions that emphasize factual details. Tries to be transparent with a realistic plot. Reality: different ways of seeing things the underlying problem with realism. The world doesn"t come to us transparently, always shaped by bias. The window being attended to right off the bat: self reflexivity. The eye beyond the bisection to view the wonders. Scenes and segments self reflexive moment in that.