Friday, July 15, 2005

In which the Meridian oh-so-humbly attempts to start a meme that will sweep the blogosphere with tsunami-like force

(Hat-tip to Rene and his excellent blog, Teoria del caos, who gets the credit for providing the earthquake, as it were.)
I hope el estimado Rene doesn't mind if I borrow his idea and run with it a bit. I read this recent post of his and got to thinking: How would I answer if someone were to ask me what book or books have changed my life? My answer, as would most people's, I soon realized, would be a somewhat different one from the reply to What's your favorite book? or Who's your favorite novelist?
Rene's first book is Carlos Fuentes' A Change of Skin. I've read much Fuentes, but not that one. But the reasons Rene offers, though, would certainly be among mine for the first novel I would choose, William Faulkner's Go Down, Moses. This was the first novel I read--though I didn't realize it very fully until years later--that introduced me to the notion of just how malleable the novel form can be. Faulkner called it a novel, but the "chapters" are stories that appear to stand independent of the other stories . . . until you try to talk about them. James A. Snead, in his excellent study of Faulkner, Figures of Division, calls this novel a miscegenated text, and that is indeed an apt description of its structure.
It's also a most-apt description of its central theme. In terms of my academic career, such as it is, I have Go Down Moses to thank for being the source of the question that led me to my dissertation topic: how miscegenation functions as an irruption into a narrative and how that function might serve as a trope of New World culture.
On a more personal level, though, Go Down, Moses' longest story, "The Bear," served as my first real introduction to Faulkner, waaaay back in high school. Even now, after so many years of classes and reading what others have to say about him and writing papers and a dissertation closely concerned with his work, the highest tribute I can pay to him--or to any writer--is that his work still moves me emotionally as well as intellectually.

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1 comment:

René López Villamar said...

I never tought that my post could start a meme! I hope that it catches fire.

I feel the moment you first discover the possibilities of narrative change your life forever. You may be a long time reader, but once you discover the malleabilty of words you start thinking of yourself as a reader.

As a kind of reciprocation, I should say that I've read a lot of Faulkner, but not that one. Still, Faulkner influence on Fuentes' work can be felt in a lot of his novels, including A Change of Skin.

Thanks for the comment, and a hat-tip to you.

Muchos Saludos