《The Well-Educated Mind》的笔记-第75页
- 页码：第75页 2014-10-26 19:01:13
The Second Level of Inquiry: Logic-Stage Reading...Is this novel a "fable" or a "chronicle"?...What does the central character (or characters) want? What is standing in his (or her) way? And what strategy does he (or she) pursue in order to overcome this block?...P75Who is telling you this story?.. stories are told by a voice. Whose voice is it? Or, in other words, what point of view does the writer adopt?Point of view, like other aspects of fiction, can be broken into dozens of types, each subtlely different. Unless you plan to make a detailed study of the art of fiction, you only need to be familiar with the five basic points of view. Each has its advantages and tradeoffs....Where is the story set? Every story happens in a physical place. Is this place natural, or human-constructed? If natural, do the woods and fields and skies reflect the emotions and problems of the characters? Do clouds cover the sky as the heroine weeps; does the wind rise as tempers fray? Or is nature unresponsive to the hero's struggles? The answers to these questions will tell you how the novelist views the human relationship to the physical world. Is humanity so intimately connected to nature that the earth responds to the human plight? Or is the universe indifferent? Are we the center of the universe, or simply bugs crawling on its uncaring surface?Human-built surroundings -- a city, a house, a room -- can also reflect the inner life of the characters: bare and clean, cluttered and confused.... (writes the narrator of Camus's The Stranger,... The thick, unvarying atmosphere reflects the narrator's own inability to pierce through the fog of confusion all around him.Look for several sections of description and ask yourself: Who is present in this scene? What are her surroundings like? How does she sense them? What does this say about her state of mind?What style does the writer employ? "Style" refers not only to the vocabulary a writer uses (simple or multisyllabic?) but also to the general length of sentences. Are they short and terse? Or complex, containing many clauses and subordinate ideas?At the beginning of the twentieth century, realistic novelists made a concerted effort to move away from complex, complicated sentences -- the product of thought and careful pencil work -- toward a more colloquial, casual style, closer to what "real, plain people" would use in everyday conversation. This shift away from formal language reflected a change in ideas of "good style."You can identify whether the writer is using formal or informal language (or diction) by using a few simple, mechanical devices. In Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, Edward Corbett suggests the following:...These mechanical exercises can help you begin to evaluate whether the writer's style is "plain" (short, common words, simple sentences) or more complex and ornamental.Now take three passage of dialogue from three different characters and compare them, using the above exercise. Do all these characters talk alike? (This is a very common flaw --even in the work of great writers.) Or do their patterns of speech reflect the fact that they have different backgrounds, different jobs, different lives?Images and metaphors...A metaphor is a physical object or act that stands for somethings else -- an attitude, a situation, a truth. A metaphor is different from an allegory.. an allegory is a set of related metaphors, whereas a metaphor is a single image that may bear multiple meanings.Beginnings and endings...John Gardner suggests, in the Art of Fiction, that stories have two kinds of endings. There is the resolution, when "no further event can take place (the murderer has been caught and hanged, the diamond has been found and restored to its owner, the elusive lady has been captured and married)." In contrast is the ending of logical exhaustion, in which the characters have reached "the stage of infinite repetition; more events might follow .. but they will all express the same thing -- for example, the character's entrapment in empty ritual or some consistently wrong response to the pressures of his environment."What sort of ending does the book have? The resolution that Gardner describes shows a certain faith that we can triumph over our world, control our existence by discovering rules we can follow in order to bring success (or break to court disaster). The ending of logical exhaustion, on the other hand, shows that we are trapped, powerless, condemned to repeat the same actions over and over again. Each kind of ending demonstrates a certain philosophy about the nature of human life. Do you agree with that philosophy?That question (Do I agree?) leads us into the third stage of reading: the rhetoric phase.The Third Level of Inquiry: Rhetoric-Stage Reading...Do you sympathize with the characters? Which ones, and why?.....Is the novel self-reflective?......Did the writer's times affect him?.....A good rule of thumb is to read twenty years on either side of the work in question, so that when you read Pilgrim's Progress you should read about events in England from 1660 to 1700....Is there an argument in this book? ..A novel is not an argument, and story should never be boiled down into a syllogism. The primary purpose of a novelist is to lead you through an experience, not to convince you of a point. But in many novels, there is an idea. The writer, in describing the life of one particular character, is making a statement about the human condition in general...So think about what happens to the main characters, and why. Is there an argument in the hero's (or heroine's) fate -- or in the villain's downfall?Do you agree? ...Related to this is one final question: What is fiction meant to do? Why are you reading a novel at all? Are you expecting to find out some truth about human nature? Should a novel reveal some difficult, hard-to-face truth about ourselves? Do novels show the inevitable end of certain paths? Or are they, instead, agents of moral change? Do they show us models so that we can amend our ways? This idea-- that fiction provides us with a model -- itself has a certain assumption behind it: There is some standard of human behavior which applies to all of us, in all cultures, and our quest in life is to uncover it.The opposing idea was once expressed by Alexander Pope in the phrase, "Whatever is, is right." The novel doesn't set out an ideal, because to assume that there is such a thing as an unchanging standard of behavior governing all people at all times is narrow minded and myopic. The novel has no business in providing models. It simply explores realities: It opens numerous doors for you to peer through, but makes no suggestions as to which threshold you should cross....Read the following list in chronological order:MIGUEL DE CERVANTESDon Quixote(1605)JOHN BUNYANThe Pilgrim's Progress(1679)Best edition: The penguin Classic paperback (New York: Penguin Books, 1987;)JONATHAN SWIFTGulliver's Travels(1726)Best edition: The Oxford World's Classics paperback (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998)... also available in Dover Thrift edition.
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