#1 Close Reading & Analysing Literature
Louis Menon(sp?) on short fiction: a short story is the most single-minded of all literary forms, the
reader expects an effect or to be effected --> think "whoa."
An experience without words.
o A short story seems effortless (like golf) but it's far more complicated.
Elaine Showalter's definition of a close reading (on Blackboard - important for term): foundation
of critical analysis - especially in relation to short stories.
o Need to understand verbal, formal and structural elements of the words.
Close reading is a deliberate attempt to detach from plot/story & pay attention to
imagery, allusion, intertextuality, syntax and form.
Ask: How does the verbal texture of this paragraph illuminate the theme of the story?
#2 (Prairie) Realism
Under heading of "Realism:" used to designate a recurrent mode in various eras and literary forms
of representing life in literature.
o Opposed to romantic fiction.
Romance is for how life would be as we would have it.
Realism, is obviously, a more realistic representation.
o Realism represents life and the social world as it seems to the reader.
Story & characters have to seem plausible.
Fredrick Grove was devoted to the idea of realism to convince the reader that the narrative was
based in real life and objective and believable.
o Portrayed an idealized realistic and unsentimental view of prairie life.
"Prairie realism:" exerted powerful influence on 20th century Canadian fiction.
o His realism got him into trouble with readers of the time.
View one of his novels as pornographic when a farm woman induces abortion through
physically strenuous activity.
Contemporary readers would/might be compassionate to her lonely lifestyle.
o Sympathetic to the difficulties that prairie women struggle while cultivating their land.
#3 Lazy Bones -- Fredrick Phillip Grove
FPG: devoted to literary realism - fiction that is using devices to convince the reader that it could
take place IRL.
o Reader's response is important.
Lazy Bones is about the price paid in human relationship and family life by trying to bring culture
to a largely uninhabited space by cultivating land.
How is Elizabeth Hurst introduced?
o "Strong and … boney"?
Grove wants us to immediately revise our initial impression of Elizabeth.
o "Not a beauty."
Significant that she doesn't conform to the standard for women.
Described as a man?
Where her husband is passive, "still sleeping." --> alliteration drawing focus to this
Her energy and capability are portrayed as masculine traits and in that way, she
betrays her femininity. And Walt himself doesn't conform to male stereotypes.
Walt is coated throughout the story as being less sophisticated and articulate.
o Unequal role in relationship with Elizabeth.
Real danger if the characters don't conform to their gendered stereotypes.
While Elizabeth appears to relish the farm lifestyle, Marta struggles with the role.
One other reference to a woman in the story, pg. 57: exchange between Walt and his friend, in
the presence of Elizabeth - Walt telling his friend "[Elizabeth's] not a looker," also mentioning
Irene - "yeah, she's a looker, alright; a high-stepper too." - sounds like they're describing a horse,
and Elizabeth is described as a workhorse in contrast elsewhere (where - 58 maybe?)