I hope I'm not missing something very obvious and exposing myself as a dolt, but why does the main character mail the address of her cousin Ernie to Mr Purvis at Henfryn Street? I have looked at other review sites, and one by John T. Purvis, and apparently he has moved away from the address to which she sent the letter; why would she want to punish her cousin because she is wants revenge on Nina? My humblest thank you to any and all who respond. Hallo Sara, yes you actually missed something: the last scene of the story is not the last scene of the chronology I hope that is the right word, sorry for my english, I am no native speaker The narratress is mailing Ernis adress to Mr.

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Thoughts on reading and studying the short story by a guy who's read and written about a lot of short stories. I think the thing that has drawn me into the story is the discovery the narrator makes that her conviction that she is right, that she knows what she is doing, is wrong. I think Purvis is contemptible--he sets things up so that he can dominate--he shows a satisfied expression as if he has made a "winning move" when the narrator flushes at her bare condition.

Why does he get some satisfaction from dining with the narrator when she is bare and he is fully clothed? The narrator gets it right when she feels something akin to outrage at herself for reading poetry to Purvis in this shameful,, embarrassing condition.

He even instructs her not to cross her legs. What a puppet master. She associates forever in her mind those poems she read with the wrongness of letting Purvis control her. In that association she has besmirched her life of the mind. The scene is not a scene of lovers--it is Purvis asserting power The reality the narrator discovers is that even though she studies literature and philosophy, she is clay.

She can't bear the thought that Ernie and Nina will always know about her shameful surrender to Purvis because she thought wrongly that she was doing something else--rising to a challenge--not giving in to a manipulator. When the narrator reveals Nina's hiding place to Purvis, she gives up the high ground.

She is putting Nina back into the kind of subjugation that she herself accepted freely out of her mistake about what she was doing, but she is responsible for Nina's loss of freedom. I can not quite get my mind around the difference between what a character does at a moment of decision--it defines the character that we take as real--and what an author does by manipulating characters in a fiction that reveals our own deepest fears and griefs.

If the author gets it right, and we do see ourselves and our inner condition played out in the fictional artifact, then the characters are real and their manipulation of other characters and events within the story are damning while the author's manipulation of the aspects of fiction to create the artifact is a work of art.

Post a Comment. For me, the issue has to do with a common theme in the short story as a genre—the blurring of the edge between reality and unreality—and a common short story technique of exploring this question in terms of the reality of unreality. The narrator is a student of literature. The narrator believes that one who studies literature should see reality differently than others.

However, the narrator admits at one point that, except in examinations, she gets many things wrong. And the main thing she thinks she may have gotten wrong is, as Sandy points out, her notion that what she is doing—reading literature—is what is real, or at least teaches us how to see the real. The other characters in the story, she comes to realize, see reading literature as only a game.

The narrator gets many of her ideas and expectations from reading. Her own experience with reality other than what she reads is sparse. Purvis, makes her feel like a simpleton. Still, the narrator thinks that Nina has no pegs on which to hang anything because she has not read about Victorian, Romantic, Pre-Columbian, that she could not find on the map the many countries she has visited, and that she wouldn't know whether or not the French Revolution came before the First World War.

When Mrs. Winner comes to pick her up for dinner with Mr. When Mr. Purvis takes her to his library, she has a notion of the sort of story, that few people ever get a chance to read, about a room called a library turning out to be a bedroom with soft lights, puffy cushions, and downy pillows. She lives in fiction more easily than in phenomenal reality. So why does she willing take her clothes off? Because, as she says, it is a challenge, a sort of Bohemian dare, a gesture to show that she is not just a bookworm, but as daring as the women in the books with which she is familiar.

She tries to assume the liberal, well-read, view that we are all naked under our clothes. For the moment, she sees herself as a liberated fictional figure, and does not worry that anything will happen to her. The fact that the narrator sends Mr. The narrator, that is, the creator of the story we are reading, is wicked in the way that all writers of fiction are wicked—creating fictional characters, pretending they are real and then manipulating them mercilessly as merely fictional characters.

At the end of the story, the narrator says she keeps learning things, such as the Uricon, the Roman camp, is now Wroxeter, a town on the Severn River. I have always been concerned with the basic issue of the relationship between fantasy and reality in fiction and have written about it several times.

I once wrote a paper on howTwain did this in Huckleberry Finn. Huckleberry Finn, like Don Quixote, directly deals with the problem of multiple realities discussed by James.

Don Quixote sustains his world by appealing to the "authorities" of books of chivalry; Tom sustains his world by appealing to the "authority" of Don Quixote. Tom's hypothesis of the enchanters which make Huck see Sunday-school children instead of A-rabs is similar to Don Quixote's hypothesis of them to explain why Sancho Panza sees windmills instead of giants.

However, as Alfred Schutz points out, to Don Quixote the existence of the enchanters is not a mere hypothesis, but an historical fact verified by all the source books reporting on matters of chivalry. Furthermore, Schutz reminds us, "If we examine why, within the reality of our natural attitude, we believe in historical events we can only refer to arguments similar to those of Don Quixote: to documents, monuments, authenticated accounts of witnesses, and uninterrupted tradition.

The problem critics have with Huckleberry Finn arises when they try to judge it from the perspective of the sub-universe of everyday reality, somehow forgetting that as a novel the entire book exists within Twain's sub-universe of deliberate fable. Perhaps all literary fictions are also meta-literary, in that every artist is caught in the conflict between seeing the activity he is engaged in as idle play and productive work at the same time.

Art is a form of play that by being pushed to hallucinatory extremes masters the conflict inherent in the activity between its play nature and its work nature. Thus, although Huckleberry Finn is a serious work of art, the Tom Sawyer fantasy frame reminds us that it is also a form of play that masters its own sub-universe of fable.

Mark Twain's creation of the fantasy Huckleberry Finn is similar to Tom Sawyer's fantasies, and as a fantasy the novel quite legitimately is resolved in the conclusion by a final reminder that fictional conflict can only be resolved fictionally. If the function of literature is, as Norman Holland suggests, to transform our "primitive wishes and fears into significance and coherence," its metaliterary function is to aesthetically resolve the conflict between play and work, pleasure principle and reality principle, that arises in any artistic activity.

The art work manifests a compromise between the pleasure principle and the reality principle by creating out of the play of fantasy a work of literature. The compromise is laid bare in Huckleberry Finn in the relationship between Tom's fantasy play and Huck's realistic work. The usual critical view of Tom Sawyer as a prototype of civilized hypocritical man as romantic dreamer may be simply the result of our cultural bias against fantasy, our assumption that the everyday world is the only mature reality.

If we shift our focus and remember that Huckleberry Finn is an art work, a deliberate fable, instead of a social document, isn't it more likely that from this perspective Huck Finn is in some ways the prototype of modern economic man as unimaginative realist? Mark Twain may admire Huck for his realism, but as an artist twain is in the position of Tom Sawyer.

Moreover, as readers, we are also in the position of Tom, fantasying that we are Huck, but desiring to maintain our freedom to play. The Tom Sawyer frame of the book provides us with a reminder of this freedom. Huck Finn may escape civilization, but Tom Sawyer, like Mark Twain, like every artist, subverts it with his play. I thank Sandy for reminding me of this story. I hope she will respond with her own reading.

Iwould love to hear what others think. I will remind you of it when I get word of its publication date. Posted by Charles E. May at PM. Newer Post Older Post Home. Subscribe to: Post Comments Atom. Now Available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle Click cover to go to Amazon and read the Introduction and first chapter. Join me on Twitter Follow CharlesCmay. Search This Blog. Total Pageviews. Follow by Email. About Me Charles E. May View my complete profile. Daniyal Mueenuddin--Social vs.

Subjects Discussed on Reading the Short Story. Henry Award Stories 1 O. Morgan 1 C. Osondu 1 E. Doctorow 2 E. M Forster 1 E. Short Story 2 Novella 2 novella as a form 1 Novels vs. Short Stories 1 O. Henry 1 O. Henry Award Part 2 1 O. Henry Award Stories 2 O. Henry Award Stories: 1 O. Henry Prize Stories 1 O. Henry Prize Stories 2 O. Henry Prize stories part 1 1 O.. Chapters in Novels 1 short story and poetry 1 Short Story Criticism 1 Short Story Month 1 Short Story Month 2 Short Story Month 2 Short Story Month 1 Short Story Month 1 short story month part 10 1 short story month part 11 1 short story month part 12 1 short story month part 13 1 Short story month Part 3 1 Short Story Month Part 4 1 short story month part 5 1 short story month part 7 1 short story month part 8 1 short story month part 9 1 Short Story Prize 1 Short Story publishing 1 Short Story vs.

Temporal Form in the Short Story 1 St. Patrick's Day 1 St. Boyle 2 T. Boyle The Fugitive 1 T. Dubliners Centenial One hundred years ago, the great collection of stories Dubliners by James Joyce appeared. If you are interested in my comments on that collection, see my posts in April when the book was featured in Dublin's "One City, One Book. One of my readers, who just happens to be my daughter-in-law, Ean, asked me if I had read Haruki Murakami and, if so, what I thought of him


The emotional housekeeping of the world

These addresses do not actually exist in London, Ontario. But readers are left to imagine the residences of Mr. Purvis and Ernie Botts, the homes which served as university residences, and the old Chelsea restaurant on Dundas Street. A brick bungalow with a tiny front yard, an arched living-room window with an upper pane of coloured glass. Cramped and genteel. The public buildings which feature in the story are more readily identifiable. The girls probably would have attended their arts classes in University College, in the heart of the UWO campus, atop a large hill.


Wenlock Edge by Alice Munro: Summary & Analysis

I n "Fiction", one of the 10 new stories collected in Too Much Happiness, a woman called Joyce takes a vague dislike to a guest at a family party. The guest, Maggie, whom Joyce thinks of as the sort of young woman "whose mission in life is to make people feel uncomfortable", turns out to be a writer who's just published her first book. Joyce buys a copy on a whim a few days later, not sure if she'll actually read it "she has a couple of good biographies on the go at the moment". She becomes even more unsure when she realises that it's "a collection of short stories, not a novel. It seems to diminish the book's authority, making the author seem like somebody who is just hanging on to the gates of Literature, rather than safely settled inside. Alice Munro has said in interviews that she once had similar anxieties about short stories - that she spent her 20s fretting about not producing a novel. These days, along with William Trevor, she is one of the grandees of English-language short fiction.

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