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Lecture

As For Me and My House pt1

6 Pages
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Department
English
Course Code
ENG353Y1
Professor
Vikki Visvis

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Week of 28 th
Sept. 2010
As for Me and My House Sinclair Ross
- Recognized by many as a great Canadian novel.
- Up until the 1960s, the Canadian literary canon was mostly poetry; the novel was written more for
mass appeal. As was an attempt to elevate the novel to the status of art. However, it has caused
confusion from the time it was written a lot going on in this book.
- Ross made the setting of the novel ambiguous, allowing for it to be in a Canadian prairie town, or in
the Midwest. He had to appeal to the masses for financial reasons, targeting both the Canadian and
US markets. The novel was a failure in the US, and nearly so in Canada. However, critics began to
look further into this book, especially thematic critics like Frye and Atwood, in the themes of a
malevolent nature, and the figure of the paralyzed artist.
1) Nature
A) Encroaching Malevolent Void
Nature: both a menacing void, and a source of inspiration. Inherent terror of nature distinctly felt in
the novel, threat of nature to reduce you into nothingness. The rain conveys the indifference of nature,
and the huddles houses Mrs. Bentleys own apprehension (P8). The small town acts as Fryes garrison.
The landscape looms around the town, and threatens to eradicate identity.
Both physical and existential threat. The endless dust, wind, and snow around the house are a
constant reminder(P47).
(P131) Enter wide open space. The wilderness here makes us uneasy… Almost a sense of nihilism,
showing how frail and insignificant she is. On the other hand, it mirrors the characters emotions,
compounding its malevolence. She feels rejected by her husband and nature (Narrators name never
mentioned, proto-feminist, no individual existence?).
Her relationship with Philip is very clingy, so name exclusion could have also been a voluntary act of
giving up her own identity, to join it to her husbands (but she is writing a diary, so why would she
refer to her own name?)
(P125-6) When I rounded a point and looked back and couldnt see the fire I was afraid for a minute.
The close black hills, the stealthy slipping sound the river made-it was as if I was entering dead,
forbidden country, approaching the lair of the terror that destroyed the hills, that was lurking there
still among the skulls.
(P26) Five years in succession now theyve been blown out, dried out, hailed out; and it was as if in
the face of so blind and uncaring a universe they were trying to assert themselves, to insist upon their
own meaning and importance.
(P26-7) Man cant bear to admit his insignificance. If youve ever seen a hailstorm, or watched a crop
dry up his helplessness, the way hes ignored well, it was just such helplessness in the beginning
that set him discovering gods who could control the storms and seasons…
www.notesolution.com
Paul explains that for a man of faith, there is some consolation for their hardships. There is a sense
that the Bentleys are not Christian, as they believe God is dead, so must feel that sense of nothingness
alone. (God is dead”-Nietzsche).
Early 20thC, Realism was the main movement best way to construct a nation. During this period, the
main movement was Modernism (The Wasteland). Certain Realist texts, like As, subtly incorporated
Modernist elements, the sense of existential nothingness (even clearer in The Double Hook)
B) Agent of Inspiration
Nature is an agent of inspiration to those willing to access it. A mirror of Mrs. Bentley`s own
suppressed vitality. She wouldn`t go walking so often if she didn`t realize that the environment is
rejuvenating, but becomes demonic because she suppresses that vitality both within and out, and
turns on it. Towards the end, she feels her fingers become more wooden, etc., because she denies her
own vitality.
Judith West doesn`t deny its vitality (she watches trains, a symbol of future opportunities, and hope).
Her desire for something groups her with the Bentley`s. She is also an artist, and is very similar to
Philip very private. `Wind in her hair image shows her affinity to nature.
(P51) I found it hard myself to believe in the town outside, houses, streets, and solid earth. Mile after
mile the wind poured by, and we were immersed and lost in it. I sat breathing from my throat, my
muscles tense. To relax, I felt, would be to let the walls around me crumple in.
Judith is the only one who doesnt shrink away from the wind, presenting her with a life-giving force,
i.e. her music.
Maybe our response to nature is conditioned by how we first approach it.
-Nature is presented as being very different things in this novel.
2. Mrs. Bentley and Her Narrative
A) Roy Daniels: Mrs. Bentley as Pure Gold
Mrs. Bentley is an unreliable narrator, and a little paranoid. Roy Daniels initially wrote that Mrs.
Bentley was pure gold, and wholly credible, but this view changed, and she was undermined as
being unreliable and manipulative.
She describes herself in a much better light than she deserves (pious, good woman), however, there are
marked contradictions in what the character says and does.
B) Mrs. Bentley as Unreliable and Manipulative (Wilfred Cude)
i) Inconsistencies in depictions of herself: Mrs. Bentleys relationship with Paul
In references to Paul, she never forgets her proprieties never the sense that there is flirtation, but a
sense of evasiveness. Philip does see something in her relationship with Paul. We find it difficult to
accept that their relationship is innocently platonic, but there is plenty of evidence that Paul loves
Mrs. Bentley, by doing things against his own nature, appearing a little foolish (dancing, strawberries)
(P101) You learn a lot from a philologist. Cupid, he says, has given us cupidity, Eros, erotic, Venus,
venereal, and Aphrodite, aphrodisiac.
Mrs. Bentley tries to make Philip jealous, e.g. dancing w/ the cowboy. She is capable of social
indiscretion, even if she doesnt realize it, and presents herself as a pious and rightful woman.
www.notesolution.com

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Description
th Week of 28 Sept. 2010 As for Me and My House Sinclair Ross - Recognized by many as a great Canadian novel. - Up until the 1960s, the Canadian literary canon was mostly poetry; the novel was written more for mass appeal. As was an attempt to elevate the novel to the status of art . However, it has caused confusion from the time it was written a lot going on in this book. - Ross made the setting of the novel ambiguous, allowing for it to be in a Canadian prairie town, or in the Midwest. He had to appeal to the masses for financial reasons, targeting both the Canadian and US markets. The novel was a failure in the US, and nearly so in Canada. However, critics began to look further into this book, especially thematic critics like Frye and Atwood, in the themes of a malevolent nature, and the figure of the paralyzed artist. 1) Nature A) Encroaching Malevolent Void Nature: both a menacing void, and a source of inspiration. Inherent terror of nature distinctly felt in the novel, threat of nature to reduce you into nothingness. The rain conveys the indifference of nature, and the huddles houses Mrs. Bentleys own apprehension (P8). The small town acts as Fryes garrison. The landscape looms around the town, and threatens to eradicate identity. Both physical and existential threat. The endless dust, wind, and snow around the house are a constant reminder(P47). (P131) Enter wide open space. The wilderness here makes us uneasy Almost a sense of nihilism, showing how frail and insignificant she is. On the other hand, it mirrors the characters emotions, compounding its malevolence. She feels rejected by her husband and nature (Narrators name never mentioned, proto-feminist, no individual existence?). Her relationship with Philip is very clingy, so name exclusion could have also been a voluntary act of giving up her own identity, to join it to her husbands (but she is writing a diary, so why would she refer to her own name?) (P125-6) When I rounded a point and looked back and couldnt seethe fire I was afraid for a minute. The close black hills, the stealthy slipping sound the river made-it was as if I was entering dead, forbidden country, approaching the lair of the terror that destroyed the hills, that was lurking there still among the skulls. (P26) Five years in succession now theyve been blown out, dried out, hailed out; and it was as if in the face of so blind and uncaring a universe they were trying to assert themselves, to insist upon their own meaning and importance. (P26-7) Man cant bear to admit his insignificance. If youve ever seen a hailstorm, or watched a crop dry up his helplessness, the way hes ignored well, it was just such helplessness in the beginning that set him discovering gods who could control the storms and seasons www.notesolution.com
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