12 oct. 2008

Home and Identity in Beloved by Toni Morrison and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Home and Identity in Beloved by Toni Morrison and The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros



Beloved

The House on Mango Street

Homes

A “Home” serves as a place to gather strenght, to formulate strategy, and to rest even when this is not enough to solve institutional and social evils.

A "Home" for Esperanza is a place where she is free to be herself, which in turn, will mean a fully developed indentity.


A “home” is a place with which characters feel identified, a home characterizes who they are and it determines how they view themselves. It is a depiction of who they are inside and how they grow through life experiences.

Change of spaces

Spaces change through geographical movement, from Sweet Home to 124 Bluestone.


Spaces and homes change as characters grow. How they view things also changes.

Constraints

Home is constrained by the law, by the walls of the house, by the armed guards, by violence and trauma. A home demands for self-protection but it is not a place you can entirely rely on, it is vulnerable (school teacher / Bluestone)

The features that constrains Mexican homes in the United States are the windows of each house. Women fell trapped in their houses and they only have access to the world through the window.

Rent vs Ownership

124 Bluestone is owned by white abolitionists and rented by Baby Suggs.

Esperanza’s family have rented many houses but now they own the one in Mango Street.

Aim of home

Sethe creates in her house a space to provide warmth and sustenance to her family and yo the community

For many characters it is a place of refugee and belonging, the stories of the different characters show that they want to go back to the place they call home.

Relationship with the community

Center and heart of the Black Community, this leads to the lack of privacy. No sense of family for Baby Suggs, which is the reason why she opens the house for the community.

Their house is located in a Mexican Neighbourhood in the U.S where immigrants live and share their lives. No privacy.

The power of language

Beloved may be read as Morrison's effort to transform those who have always been the defined into the definers.

Even when being slaves, the characters manipulate language and transcend its standard limits. Their command of language allows them to adjust its meanings and to make themselves indecipherable to the white slave owners who watch them.

Throughout The House on Mango Street, particularly in “No Speak English,” those who are not able to communicate effectively (or at all) are relegated to the bottom levels of society. Mamacita moves to the country to be with her husband, and she becomes a prisoner of her apartment because she does not speak English. She misses home and listens to the Spanish radio station, and she is distraught when her baby begins learning English words. His new language excludes her.

Esperanza observes the people around her and realizes that if not knowing or not mastering the language creates powerlessness, then having the ability to manipulate language will give her power. She wants to change her name so that she can have power over her own destiny.

View on Women

For Baby Suggs the house provides a space for the necessary work of getting others out.

For Esperanza, Mango Street forces women into a subordinate position dominated by males who sexually manipulate women.

21 ago. 2008

“THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN” BY JOHN FOWLES

METAFICTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS IN CHAPTER 13 OF

“THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT'S WOMAN” BY JOHN FOWLES

In order to analyze metafictional characteristics in Chapter 13 of “The French Lieutenant's Woman” by John Fowles, it is necessary to define two important concepts: Postmodernism and Metaficion. Postmodernism, is a movement that emerged in the 1960’s whose main ideas were related to the rejection of boundaries between high and low forms of art, the rejection of genre distinctions, an emphasis on pastiche, parody, bricolage, irony, and playfulness. Lyotard adds to this idea the fact that, during modernity all aspects of modern societies, including science, depended on these grand narratives. Postmodernism then is the critique of grand narratives, the awareness that such narratives serve to mask the contradictions and instabilities that are inherent to any social organization or practice. As a consequence, minorities emerged showing a situational, provisional, and temporary, truth, reason, or stability giving birth to many genres within Postmodernism, among which we can find Metafiction. Patricia Waugh provides the following definition of the term: "fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality". Metafictional works, she says, are those that "explore a theory of writing fiction through the practice of writing fiction".

Chapter 13 begins "I do not know. This story I am telling is all imagination. These characters I create never existed outside my mind”. In this short passage we can cleraly see one of the metafictional characteristics throguh which the author challenges the traditionl roles of the author and the reader. This is related to the authorial intimacy that the author posses, he intrudes comments in order to destroy the illusion of reality and blur the lines between fiction and reality. Another characteristict Fowles uses is the dramatization of the reader. He addresses the reader so as to make him / her aware of his / her role as player in his novel. For instance, when he says “You may think novelists always have fixed plans...” his addressing directly the reader. Furthermore, he also says “If you think that, hypocrite lecteur, I can only smile...” playing not only with the idea of addressing the reader but also with the idea of intertextuality ("The Flowers of Evil" by Jean Baudelaire-1857).

On the one hand, John Fowles considers himself a Victorian 'omniscient narrator', but he intrudes in his fiction and gives characters restricted freedom since he also gives them commands like: “When Charles left Sarah on her cliff edge, I ordered him to walk straight back to Lyme Regis”. He also uses parody when writing in the manner of Victorian writers did. He re-visits the past and shows himself like “god” writer like in Victorian times but he ends up giving freedom to his novel: “The novelist is still a god, since he creates (...) What has changed is that we are no longer the Gods of the Victorian image, omniscient and decreeing...”. On the other hand, he keeps an epigraph on each of his chapters as Victorian writers did. In Chapter 13, Fowles also talks about Postmodernism and Lyotard’s idea of the fall of the grand narratives and the idea that such narratives serve to mask the contradictions and instabilities of past dicourses: “So if you think all this unlucky digression has nothing to do with your Time, Progress, Society, Evolution and all those capitalized ghosts...”.

All in all, in Chapter 13 of “The French Lieutenant's Woman” by John Fowles, we can clearly see how the autor had employed all the resources and techniques that Postmodernism offered. He questioned the relationship between fiction and reality, he challenged the tradicional roles of autor ad reader, he had also payed homage to some of the techniques used by Victorian writers by employing them in his novel. Finally, he has invited the reader to play the role of a detective, to make him or her part of his fiction.

16 ago. 2008

Metafiction and the Novel Tradition - Patricia Waugh

"What is Metafiction and why are they saying such awful things about it?"

From Metafiction, Patricia Waugh,UK, 1984.

Patricia Waugh makes us point out the similarities amongst a selection of quotations and she lists three things readers would say:

A celebration of power of creative imagination together with an uncertainity about the validity of its representation

Literary form and the act of writing fictions

A parodic, playful, excessive or deceptively naíve style of writing.


But, the reader is offering a description of the concerns and characteristics of the fiction, so the term “Metafiction” needs to be defined:

“Metafiction is a term given to a fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its satus as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship of fiction to reality”

So, Waugh claims that such writings not only examine the fundamental structure of narrative fiction, they also explore the possible fictionality of the world outside the literary fictional text

NOVELS EXPLORE THE THEORY OF FICTION THROUGH THE PRACTICE OF WRITING FICTION.

Metafiction poses questions through its formal self-exploration, drawing on the traditional metaphor of the world as book.



Consequently, if our knowledge of the world (as individuals) is now seen to be mediated through language, then literary fiction becomes a useful model for learning about the construction of “reality” itself.

According to Waugh, “Language is an independant self-contained system which generates its own meanings. Its realtionship to the phenomenal world is highly complex, problematic and regulted by convention. Meta terms, therefore, are required in order to explore the relationship between this arbitrary linguistic system and the world to which it apparently refers”.

World OF fiction = World OUTSIDE fiction

The dilemma Metafiction sets out to explore: How is it possible to “describe” anything?

If the writer sets out to “represent” the world, he or she would realize that the world as such, cannot be “represented”. They can only “represent” the DISCOURSES of that world.

Hjelmslev deveolped the term “Metalanguage”: “Language which, instead of referring to non-linguistic events, situations or obejcts in the world, refers to another language: it is a language which takes another as its objects”.

In Saussure’s terms, a “metalanguage” is a language that functions as a signifier to another language, and this other language becomes its signified.

So, in the process of writing, what is explored is the problematic realtionship between life and fiction.

Metafiction pays attention to particular conventions of the novel by which the process of its construction is displayed. Novels attempt to create alternative linguistic structures or fictions which imply the old forms by encouraging the reader to draw on his or her knowledge of traditional literary conventions when struggling to construct a meaning for the new text.


Metafiction and the novel tradition


Patricia Waugh argues that, “… the term “Metafiction” might be new, the practice is as old (if not older) than the novel itself…metafiction is a tendency or function inherent in all novels”


Novels are constructed on the principle of fundamental and sustained opposition:

CONSTRUCTION OF AN ILLUSION à LAYING BARE OF THAT ILLUSION

This is done so, in order to create a fiction and to make a statement about the creation of that fiction. Writers feel that any attempt to represent reality an only produce selective perspectives.

As a consequence of this, more and more novelists question and reject forms that correspond to ordered reality:

Novel tradition

A well-made plot

Chronological sequence

Authoritative omniscient narator

Rational connections

Atmosphere of certainty


Metafictional writings

The process of constructing the world is more important than the plot

Unimportance of sequence & details

Non rational connections

Plurality of Voices

Atmosphere of uncertainity



16 jul. 2008

The Hours by Michael Cunningham


Las Horas de Michael Cunningham: Características postmodernistas y metaficcionales, temas y estrategias.

Las Horas (The Hours) es una novela de 1998 escrita por el estadounidense Michael Cunningham. En 1999, ganó el premio Pulitzer por Ficción y obtuvo un Oscar en 2002 luego de haber sido llevada al cine con el mismo nombre. El libro/película encapsula la historia de tres generaciones de mujeres que se vieron afectadas por la novela de Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway.

1. Virginia Woolf mientras escribía en 1923 Mrs. Dalloway y la lucha en contra de su enfermedad menta. PERÍODO DE POSTGUERRA (Primera Guerra Mundial)

2. Sra. Brown, esposa de un veterano de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, quien lee Mrs. Dalloway en 1949 mientras planea el cumpleaños de su esposo. PERÍODO POSTGUERRA (Segunda Guerra Mundial)

3. Clarissa Vaughn (lesbiana), quien planifica en 1999 una fiesta para celebrar el premio mayor de la literatura otorgado a su mejor amigo y ex amante, el poeta Richard, quien está agonizando de SIDA. POSTMODERNIDAD

El efecto más maravilloso que Cunningham logró en su novela es que los tres personajes se reflejan en situaciones que Clarissa Dalloway de Virginia Woolf experimenta en el libro de Mrs Dalloway. Sin embargo, la novela de Cunningham también refleja la obra de la Sra. Dalloway de Virginia Woolf:

* Estilo de narrativa – El fluir de la conciencia

* Las técnica utilizada por Woolf en Mrs. Dalloway cuyas acciones tienen lugar durante un solo día

Por otra parte, si tenemos en cuenta los diferentes temas y estrategias metaficcionales utilizados por Cunningham en Las Horas, encontraremos un narrador visible así como la dramatización explícita del lector. Este estilo narrativo particular adoptado en la película representa el fluir de los pensamientos y las percepciones de los personajes principales como ocurrirían en la vida real, sin filtros y de manera impredecible. Cunningham también aparece como un narrador subjetivo ya que la voz proviene de la mente de los tres personajes principales, con interjecciones ocasionales de otros personajes. El narrador habla en tercera persona en cada uno de los capítulos / escenas y sigue el personaje principal respectivo (Clarissa Dalloway, Virginia Woolf o Laura Borwn) a través de sus pensamientos. Por momentos, el narrador disiente y examina lo que otros personajes piensan sobre el resto. Por ejemplo, en la escena de la cocina, Kitty dice lo siguiente sobre la Sra Brown: “No puedes ser una mujer completa hasta que no has sido madre …”.

Durante la película, los personajes intentan construir y deconstruir diferentes mundos. Este proceso de construcción y deconstrucción se torna altamente problemático para todos los personajes ya que las tres mujeres sufren conflictos internos ya que luchan contra sus propios sentimientos e infelicidades.Virginia Woolf lucha en contra de su enfermedad mental y en su lucha siente que no puede escribir, Clarissa Vaughn lucha en contra de su miedo a la muerte y en su lucha se pasa la vida organizando fiestas ("una vida vacía y hueca" según Richard) y Laura Brown lucha contra sus sentimientos por no quedar atrapada como ama de casa y ni siquiera poder preparar una torta de cumpleaños. Como consecuencia, podemos observar que los tres personajes intentan construir algo y que fallan al intentarlo.

Respecto de las diferentes técnicas de la película, la que Cunningham utiliza de manera más visible es la metalepsis. Esta técnica se relaciona la poca claridad de los límites entre la ficción y la realidad que propone la metaficción. La Metalepsis tiene que ver con la violación de los niveles narrativos. Cuando Richard se suicida en Mrs Dalloway (de Cunningham), la Sra. Brown va a la casa de Clarissa Vaughn y entra a la ficción de la Sra. Dalloway y eventualmente se superponen ambas historias. Los límites de la ficción y la realidad dentro de las mismas ficciones se van borrando gradualmente. También es posible que al contruir el proceso de narrativa, Cunningham mismo se haya transformado en una persona ficticia para así entrar en la ficción y proyectarse doblemente en las tres historias, como autor y como la Sra. Woolf.


Cunningham también emplea las cajas chinas. En este caso, por ejemplo, en la Sra Dalloway de Cunningham, Richard escribe su propio libro dentro de otro libro que hace de marco (llamado Las Horas) el cual lo incluye y cuyo autor es el mismo Cunningham. Como consecuencia, tenemos un libro dentro de otro libro a pesar de que los límites entre ficción y realidad estén borrados. En la Sra Dalloway de Cunningham, Clarissa Vaughn dice “El se los apropia” (cuando Richard escribe sobre ella), ya que ella siente que la ficción de Richard es su cárcel, y agrega: “Buen día, Sra Dalloway…Desde allí en adelante, quedé atrapada …” y "Me han robado mi vida. Estoy viviendo en un pueblo en el cual no deseo vivir. Estoy viviendo una vida que no deseo vivir. ¿Cómo fue que ocurrió esto?”. De esta manera, nos muestra cómo se siente atrapada en la ficción. Además, Cunningham hace uso del mise-en-abyme (puesta en abismo) cuando Richard, el autor ficcionalizado, le hace un homenaje y se burla de la Sra. Dalloway o Clarissa Vaugh: “Oh, Sra. Dalloway... siempre organizando fiestas para cubrir el silencio”.Michael Cunningham también teje un entramado de referencias intertextuales con el trabajo de Virginia Woolf así como también de su biografía (referencias a los diarios de Woolf). Cunningham conoce de distintas maneras a la Sra Dalloway como su fuente. Le da a la Sra Dalloway el rol de conectora de los elementos en Las Horas y la utiliza para desafiar la linealidad y crear una narrativa circular. La presencia más obvia de la novela de Woolf en la narrativa, es el episodio de la Sra Brown. En este, se reproducen largos fragmentos tomados literalmente de la Sra Dalloway mientras Laura lee el libro. Michael Cunningham recurre al intertexto centro no solo al comienzo de su versión actualizada de la Sra Dalloway, sino también durante el resto de la novela / película en el cual la utiliza como marco.


Básicamente, Cunningham retiene el argumento de la Sra. Dalloway y la caracterización de los personajes de Las Horas quienes tienen origen en los personajes del Woolf.

Referencias intertextuales presentes en el libro /película:

"...Qué emoción, qué shock, estar viva en una mañana de junio, próspera y casi escandalosamente privilegiada, con un solo simple trámite por hacer..."

- Clarissa reflexionando sobre el día mientras entraba a la florería.

"...el triunfo y canto y la manera extraña de sonar de algún avión era lo que ella amaba; la vida, Londres, este momento de junio..." - Laura al recordar una cita de la Sra Dalloway de Woolf.

"...Vivimos nuestras vidas, lo que hacemos y luego dormimos. Es tan simple y común como eso. Algunos se tiran por la ventana o se ahogan o toman pastillas; más mueren por accidente, y la mayoría de nosotros somos devorados por alguna enfermedad, o si tenemos suerte, por el tiempo. Solamente queda esto de consuelo: una hora aquí o allí cuando nuestra vida parece, en contra de todos los obstáculos y expectativas, abrirse y darnos todo lo que siempre imaginamos, aunque todos, excepto los niños (aunque tal vez, también ellos), saben que las horas serán inevitablemente seguidas por otras, más oscuras y más difíciles. Aún así, queremos la cuidad, la mañana, la esperanza más que a nada más. Solamente el cielo sabe porque lo amamos..."


- Clarissa reflexionando al concluir el día.


The Hours by Michael Cunningham and its Postmodernist & Metaficional Characteristics, Themes and Strategies

The Hours is a 1998 novel written by the American writer Michael Cunningham. It won the 1999 pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was later made into an Oscar winning 2002 movie of the same name. The book/film concerns three generations of women affected by Virginia´s novel.

1. Virginia Woolf herself writing Mrs. Dalloway in 1923 and struggling with her own mental illness. POST WAR PERIOD (WWI)

2. Mrs. Brown, wife of a WWII veteran, who is reading Mrs. Dalloway in 1949 as she plans her husband's birthday party. POST WAR PERIOD (WWII)

3. Clarissa Vaughn, a lesbian, who plans a party in 1999 to celebrate a major literary award received by her good friend and former lover, the poet Richard, who is dying of AIDS. POSTMODERNITY

The most amazing effect Cunningham achieved in his novel is that the three characters mirror situations experienced by Woolf's Clarissa Dalloway in 'Mrs. Dalloway'. However, Cunningham's novel also mirrors 'Mrs. Dalloway's' in

* The stream-of consciousness narrative style

* The device in Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway' of placing the action of the novel within the space of one day

On the other side, if we take into account the different metafictional strategies and themes employed by Cunningham in The Hours, we can find a visibly inventing narrator and explicit dramatization of the reader. The particular narrative style adopted in the film depicts the flowing thoughts and perceptions of main characters as they would occur in real life, unfiltered and often unpredictable. Cunningham is also the subjective narrator since the voice comes from within in the heads of the three major characters, with occasional interjections from other characters. The narrator speaks in the third person and in each of the chapters, he follows the respective main character (Clarissa Dalloway, Virginia Woolf, or Laura Borwn) through their different thoughts. The narrator sometimes also diverges and examines what the other characters think about the rest of them. For instance, in the kitchen scene, Kitty says the following about Mrs Brown: “You cannot call yourself a woman until you are a mother…”. During the film, characters are also trying to construct and deconstruct different worlds. This process of constructing or deconstructing becomes highly problematic for all characters since the three women suffer an internal conflict since each of them fights against her own rising feelings of unhappiness in life. Virginia Woolf struggles against insanity and in doing that she feels she cannot write a book, Clarissa Vaughn fights her fear of mortality and in doing that she spends her life organizing parties ("shallow empty life" according to Richard), and Laura Brown wrestles with her feelings of being trapped in her life as a housewife and in doing that she feels she cannot even make a cake. Consequently, we see that the three characters were trying to construct something and they failed while trying to do it. As regards the different techniques in this film, the most visible one Cunningham used is metalepsis. This technique is related to the blurring of boundaries that metafiction proposed, it has to do with the violation of narrative levels. When Richard commits suicide in Mrs Dalloway (Cunningham’s fiction), Mrs Brown goes to Clarissa Vaughn’s house and becomes part of Mrs Dalloway fiction and they eventually overlap. Boundaries between fiction and reality within the fictions are gradually blurred. It also possible that when constructing the process of writing, Cunningham has transformed himself into a fictional persona and by that he enters the fiction projected himself in doublets, as the author and as Mrs. Woolf plunging throughout the three stories. Cunningham also employs chinese-box worlds within his fiction. This is the case, for instance, when in Cunningham’s Mrs Dalloway, Richard is writing his own book within a framing book (called The Hours) which includes him, and whose author is Cunningham himself. Consequently, we have a book within a book despite the fact that the boundaries between fiction and reality within the fictions are gradually blurred. In Cunningham’s Mrs Dalloway, Clarissa Vaughn states “He makes them his own” (when Richard writes about her), since she feels his fiction is her prison, and she adds: “Good morning, Mrs Dalloway…From then on I’ve been stuck…” and "My life has been stolen from me. I am living in a town I have no wish to live in. I am living a life I have no wish to live. How did this happen?”, letting us know how she feels stuck within fiction. What is more, Cunnigham makes use of a mise-en-abyme when Richard, the fictionalised author, pays homage to and mocks Mrs. Dalloway or Clarissa Vaugh: “Oh, Mrs. Dalloway... Always giving parties to cover the silence”. Michael Cunningham also weaves a fabric of intertextual references to Virginia Woolf’s works as well as to her biography (references to Woolf’s diaries). Cunningham acknowledges Mrs Dalloway as his source in several different ways. He gives Mrs Dalloway a role as one of the connecting elements in The Hours and uses it to defy linearity and create a circular narrative. The most obvious presence of Woolf’s novel can be found in the Mrs Brown episode. It reproduces large excerpts taken literally from Mrs Dalloway as Laura Brown is reading them. Michael Cunningham draws upon his central intertext not only at the beginning of his updated version of Mrs. Dalloway, but he continues to use Mrs. Dalloway as a framework throughout the whole novel. Cunningham's basically retains Mrs. Dalloway’s plot and the characterisation of the characters of The Hours originates in Woolf's characters.

Intertextual references present in the book/film:

"...What a thrill, what a shock, to be alive on a morning in June, prosperous, almost scandalously privileged, with a simple errand to run..."

- Clarissa reflecting on the day as she walks to the flower shop.

"...Why doesn't she feel more somber about Richard's perversely simultaneous good fortune ("an anguished, prophetic voice in American letters") and his decline ("You have no T-cells at all, none that we can detect")? What is wrong with her? She loves Richard, she thinks of him constantly, but she perhaps loves the day slightly more..."

- Clarissa thinking about Richard.

"...the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June..."

- Laura remembering a quote from Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway.'

"...We live our lives, do whatever we do, and then we sleep. It's as simple and ordinary as that. A few jump out windows, or drown themselves, or take pills; more die by accident; and most of us are slowly devoured by some disease, or, if we're very fortunate, by time itself. There's just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds & expectations, to burst open & give us everything we've ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) know these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning, we hope, more than anything for more. Heaven only knows why we love it so..."

- Clarissa reflecting at the end of the day.

2 jul. 2008

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

DIFFERENTES CLASES DE AMOR

Wuthering Heights (Cumbres Borrascosas) de Emily Bronte


De acuerdo al Diccionario Oxford, la palabra amor presenta varias definiciones: 1 un sentimiento intenso de profunda afección 2 un profundo apego romántico o sexual hacia alguien 3 un gran interés y placer en algo 4 una persona o cosa que uno ama. Pero, ¿es posible realmente que el amor quepa en una de estas definiciones?. Creo que la palabra AMOR tiene tantas definiciones como gente en el mundo. Por lo tanto, si existen tantas definiciones como gente en el planeta….me preguntaba ¿existen “diferentes clases de amor"?. Pues parece que no soy la única que lo piensa. Cuando Emily Bronte escribió Wuthering Heights (Cumbres Borrascosas) probablemente haya querido probar esto.

Los personajes de Emily Bronte generalmente transmiten emociones extremadamente intensas. Los personajes de Cumbres Borrascosas no son la excepción. En su novela los personajes no se aman debido a sus caracteres agradables sino, por el contrario, por los profundos sentimientos y emociones que experimentan.

A lo largo de la obra Cumbres Borrascosas de Bronte, se presentan dos clases de amor claramente distinguibles. Por un lado, el amor de Linton: un tipo de amor paternalista que presenta una ambiente seguro para Catherine. Aparte de ello, Linton es un hombre físicamente atractivo: “Era un hombre alto, atlético y de buen porte; Aparte, mi amo era un poco esbelto y parecía más joven. Su porte recto sugería la idea de que había estado en la armada. Su rostro era mucho más añejo en expresión y decisión en rasgos que los del Sr. Linton; parecía inteligente y no retenía marcas de una degradación previa...".

Por otro lado, el amor Heathcliff era del tipo romántico, irracional, pasional que representa el principio de unidad concebido en la naturaleza. Catherine ama a Heathcliff con toda la fuerza de su ser, con la verdadera naturaleza de su existencia. Por ello, el amor de Catherine por Heathcliff es asexuado.

“Mi amor por Linton es como el follaje en los bosques: el tiempo lo cambia, estoy conciente, así como el invierno cambia los árboles. Mi amor por Heathcliff se parece a las eternas rocas de abajo: una fuente de placer apenas visible, pero necesario. Nelly, ¡soy Heathcliff!. Él está siempre, siempre en mi mente, no como placer, no más que lo que es siempre un placer para mi, sino como mi propio ser. Entonces no hables otra vez de nuestra separación: es impracticable; y--".

Cómo podemos ver en este pasaje, hay dos clases distintas de amor en la vida de Cathy. Y el que podemos apreciar que siente por Heathcliff parece estar en un estado inmaduro, pero basado en el principio de unidad y unanimidad. La unión se alcanza en la naturaleza.






DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOVE

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word Love presents many definitions: 1 an intense feeling of deep affection. 2 a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone. 3 a great interest and pleasure in something. 4 a person or thing that one loves. But, do you really think love can be compress into one or any of these definitions?. It is my contention that the word Love may have as many definitions as people populate the world. So, if there are as many definitions of love as people in this world...I was wondering, are there “different kinds of love”?. Well, it seems that I am not the only one who thinks that way. When Emily Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights she may have wanted to prove this.

Emily Bronte's characters usually convey extremly intense emotions. Her characters from Wuthering Height are not the exception. In her novel, characters do not love each other because they have nice and pleasant personalities but because the deep feelings and emotions they experience.

All along Bronte’s Wuthering Heights there are two kinds of love clearly presented. On the one hand, Linton's love: a paternalistic love that presents a safe atmosphere for Catherine. Apart from that, Linton is physically attractive: “He had grown tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom, my master seemed quite slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton’s ; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation.”

On the other hand, Heathcliff’s love was a romantic, irrational, and passionate kind of love that represents the principle of oneness conceived in nature. Catherine loves Heathcliff with all the strenght of her being, with the very nature of her existence. Consequently, Catherine’s love for Heathcliff is sexless.


“My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly I am Heathcliff!. He’s always, always on my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure for myself, but as my own being. So don’t talk about our separation again: it is impracticable; and--"

As we can see from this passage, there are two different kinds of love in Cathy’s life. And the one we can see she feels for Heathcliff appesars to be in an immature state, but based on the principle of oneness or unanimity. Union is achieved in nature.

24 jun. 2008

The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

THE GREAT GATSBY de Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940) & LA DECADENCIA DEL SUEÑO AMERICANO

La decadencia del sueño americano durante los años 20’.
A nivel superficial, The Great Gatsby es una historia de amor entre un hombre (Gay Gatsby) y una mujer (Daisy Buchanan).
Sin embargo, el tema principal de esta novela trata sobre una importante meditación simbólica de los Estados Unidos durante la década del 1920. La misma tiene lugar durante el verano de 1922 en Long Island, Nueva York.
Fitzgerald retrata la desintegración del "sueño americano” durante una época de prosperidad jamás vista antes y el exceso de materialismo (conocido como "los locos años veinte"). Fitzgerald describe los ‘20 como una era de decadencia social y moral, señaladas en el materialismo, cinismo, avaricia y en una búsqueda vacía del placer. Las fiestas extravagantes que Gatsby realiza cada sábado por la noche resultan en la eventual corrupción del sueño americano, mientras la sed de dinero y placer superaban los valores más nobles. Además, en aquel entonces, el 18va Enmienda de 1919 dictaba la prohibición de la venta de alcohol. Esta prohibición creaba un inframundo diseñado para satisfacer una demanda masiva de alcohol contrabandeado tanto para el consumo por parte de ricos como para pobres. Así emergieron los contrabandistas e hicieron millones de dólares gracias a la venta ilegal de alcohol.
Para comprender mejor el contexto en el que Fitzgerald escribió su novela, es importante considerar la situación que atravesaba los Estados Unidos en aquel entonces. Al finalizar la Segunda Guerra Mundial (1918), los jóvenes americanos que habían peleado en la guerra estaban desilusionados. Además, el alza en los mercados tras la desgracia de una guerra, llevó a un repentino y sostenido incremento de la riqueza nacional y a un materialismo reciente que emergía a medida que la gente gastaba dinero y consumía a niveles sin precedentes. Cualquier persona podía hacer una fortuna, sin embargo, la aristocracia estadounidense desdeñaba los nuevos industrialistas ricos y los especuladores. Consecuentemente, se generó un choque social que Fitzgferald retrató geográficamente en su novela con los nombres de: East Egg (representaba la aristocracia) y West Egg (los nuevos ricos). El escritor presenta estas áreas de manera profundamente dividida debido a las diferencias entre los nuevos ricos y las viejas familias adineradas.
La gente también cambió su mentalidad, a partir de lo cual, emergen nuevas formas de entretenimiento: la radio, el fonógrafo que se vendía en todo el país, la”era del jazz” floreció, los eventos deportivos eran importantes y la industria cinematográfica y automotriz llegaron a ventas pico.
Por lo tanto, Fitzgerald creó personajes que representaban estas tendencias sociales. Por ejemplo, Nick y Gatsby, quienes eran parte de esa generación que luchó en la guerra recurrieron a una vida salvaje y extravagante para compensar el caos y violencia que habían vivido durante la guerra. El dinero, la opulencia y la exuberancia se pusieron a la orden del día. Varios trepadores sociales y especuladores ambiciosos que asistían a las fiestas de Gatsby, daban evidencia de la avaricia se mezclaba con la riqueza.
En su sentido originario, el sueño americano se trataba sobre el descubrimiento, el individualismo y la búsqueda de la felicidad. Los 20' en Estados Unidos eran manipulados por el dinero fácil y los valores relajados que corrompieron las ideas originales del sueño americano. Sin embargo, este nuevo sueño americano no duraría mucho y su caída es lo que sigue a esta forma de vida tan extravagante. Fitzgerald la describe como una tierra vastía. Parece que el sueño americano no solo ha sido cambiado sino corrompido.



El valle de las cenizas = Decadencia moral & social de los Estados Unidos




El valle de las cenizas está ubicado entre West Egg y New York City y consta de una larga y recta línea de tierra desierta creada por los desechos de cenizas industriales.
Representa la decadencia moral y social que resulta de búsqueda desinhibida de riqueza.





THE GREAT GATSBY by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940) & THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

The Decline of the American Dream in the 1920s.
On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the love between a man (Gay Gatsby) and a woman (Daisy Buchanan).
However, the main theme of the novel, encompasses a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole. It is set up during the Summer of 1922 in Long Island, New York.
Fitzgerald portrays the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess (known as: The Roaring Twenties). Fitzgerald describes the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its materialism, cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The extravagant parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night resulted eventually in the corruption of the American dream, as the desire for money and pleasure surpassed more noble values. Moreover, at that time, the Eighteenth Amendment (1919) was passed and it banned the sale of alcohol. This prohibition created an underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among rich and poor alike. Bootleggers emerged and made millions of dollars out of selling alcohol.
To understand better the context in which Fitzgerald wrote this novel, it is important to take into account the situation America was going through at that time. When WWI ended (1918), young Americans who had fought the war became disillusioned. What is more, the rise of the stock market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the national wealth and a newfound materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels, consumerism sprang. A person from any social background could make a fortune, but the American aristocracy scorned the newly rich industrialists and speculators; consequently, there was a social clash that Fitzgferald portrayed geographically in his novel with the following names: East Egg (represents the established aristocracy) and West Egg (the self-made rich). The writers presents these areas as deeply divided by the difference between the noveau riche and the older moneyed families.
People also started going through a new state of mind in which new ways of entretainment were allowed, the Radio emerged, Phonography was sell all over America, “the Jazz Age” flourished, Sporting events were important, the Cinema and Car industry reached its peak. So Fitzgerald created characters that represented these social trends. For example, Nick and Gatsby, who were part of the generation that fought the war turned to wild and extravagant living to compensate the chaos and violence they had lived during the war. Money, opulence, and exuberance became the order of the day.The various social climbers and ambitious speculators who attend Gatsby’s parties evidence the greedy scramble for wealth.
In its original sense, the American dream was about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. The 1920s in America were driven by easy money and relaxed social values that corrupted the original American dream. However, this new American dream would not last long and downfall is what follows after such extravagant ways of living. Fitzgerald describes a wasteland. It seems that the American dream has been not only changed but also perverted.

The valley of Ashes = Moral & Social Decay of America




The valley of ashes between West Egg and New York City consists of a long stretch of desolate land created by the dumping of industrial ashes. It represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth.

21 jun. 2008

Mrs. Dalloway

Virginia Woolf & la Sra Dalloway: Grandiosidad


"La Sra. Dalloway dijo que ella misma compraría las flores”.

"...y por supuesto que disfrutaba enormemente de la vida. Su naturaleza radicaba en disfrutar...(...) disfrutaba de casi todo… Tenía un visión cómica de la vida realmente exquisita, por eso necesitaba gente, que siempre hubiese gente, para salir..."

“Porque allí estaba”.



Estas son algunas de las líneas más impresionantes que Virginia Woolf escribió en su Sra Dalloway. Sin embargo, más importante que las líneas que escribió es el hecho de que su libro marca un hito en la Literatura Inglesa.
Virginia muestra una escritora durante el proceso de construcción de la ficción, en la cual emplea diferentes técnicas. Por ejemplo: el monólogo indirecto interior ("La Sra. Dalloway dijo que ella misma compraría las flores”.), técnicas cinematográficas como el montaje, escenas retrospectivas, acercamientos o imágenes congeladas (panea de mente en mente, por ejemplo, en la escena de apertura cuando todos los personaje escuchan un tiro), y también utiliza la yuxtaposición de imágenes (Pasado /Presente = Bourton/Londres)
La Sra. Dalloway explora diferentes temas a lo largo de la novela, por ejemplo, el sentido de la vejez y la pérdida de la fertilidad, los fantasmas del pasado, los ciclos de la mujer, así como también los cambios inevitables en el sistema de clases sociales, entre otros.
Sin embargo, una de las cosas más maravillosas que presenta esta novela es que Virginia comprime todos los elementos, temas e ideas mencionadas anteriormente en un libro que se desarrolla durante un solo día. La Sra. Dalloway representa una mujer común que no conoce nada, pero quien está agradecida de existir (recordar que la novela transcurre luego de la Primera Guerra Mundial), Ella representa la vida. El hecho de que el libro transcurra en un día (miércoles 13 de junio de 1923) nos debe llamar la atención a todos ya que la Sra Dalloway es conciente de todas estas cosas que han ocurrido en un día, se da cuenta que puede apreciar la belleza pese a la destrucción que dejó la Primera Guerra Mundial.

Pero... ¿Qué hace que CLARISSA DALLOWAY sea un gran personaje?

1. AMOR A LA VIDA. Puede ver la belleza a pesar de la destrucción de que dejó la guerra y puede disfrutarla todos los días.
2. APRECIACIÓN ESTÉTICA DE LA VIDA.
3. EXISTENCIA. Ella representa la vida, ama la vida. "Porque allí estaba"




Virginia Woolf & Mrs Dalloway: Grandiosity


"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

"...And of course she enjoyed life immensely. It was her nature to enjoy ... (...) She enjoyed practically everything...(...)...She had a sense of comedy that was really exquisite, but she needed
people, always people, to bring it out..."

"For there she was."

These are some of the most impressive lines Virgina Woolf wrote in Mrs. Dalloway. However, more important than the lines she wrote is the fact that this book marks a landmark in the English Literature.
Virginia presents a writer in the process of constructing a fiction, she employs different techniques in her book, for instance: Indirect Interior Monologue ("Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself"); Cinematic Devices like montage, flashbacks, close-ups, freeze-frame or stop action (She pans from mind to mind, for instance when all the characters hear a shot in the street), etc and Juxtaposition of images (Past /Present = Bourton/London) Mrs. Woolf exploits different themes throughout her novel, for instance, the sense of aging and the loss of fertility, the ghosts from the past, cycles of womanhood, the inevitable changes in the class system, among others.
However, the most amazing thing this book presents is that Virginia comprised all the above mentioned elements, themes and ideas into a book which takes place during one day. Mrs. Dalloway stands for an ordinary woman who knows nothing but she's grateful for existence, she stands for life. The fact that the book takes place in one day (Wed. 13, June. 1923) should call everybody’s attention since Mrs. Dalloway is able to be aware of all these things that has been happening to her in one day, she realizes she can appreciate beauty despite destruction after WWI.

But... What makes CLARISSA DALLOWAY such a grandiose character?

1. LOVE FOR LIFE. She can see beauty despite World War I and she can enjoy it every day.
2. AESTHETIC APPRECIATION OF LIFE.
3. EXISTENCE. She stands for life, she loves life. "For there she was"

17 jun. 2008

Virgina Woolf

Virginia’s death was not a product of a sudden twist of fate. On the contrary, it was a thoughtful decision. She had written two letters – one for Leonard and the other for Vanessa – beforehand. She had been preparing herself her whole life to do it and she picked up a moment in a sudden impulse. On the one hand, by leaving a letter to Leonard, she was protecting him from feeling guilty by assuring himself that he had done everything he could to save her. On the other hand, she was trying to justify herself by giving her reasons to do so.

March, 18 (?) – 1941.

'Dearest,

I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can't go through another of those terrible times. And I shan't recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can't concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don't think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can't fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that - everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer.I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been.
V


La muerte de Virginia no fue producto del destino. Por el contrario, fue una decisión meditada. Había escrito dos cartas con anticipación: una para Leonard y otra para Vanesa. Toda su vida se había estado preparando para esto y eligió un momento tras un repentino impulso. Por un lado, al dejarle una carta a Leonard, lo estaba protegiendo para que no sienta culpa al asegurarle que había hecho todo lo que podía para salvarla. Por otro lado, ella intentaba justificarse dando sus razones.


18 (?) de marzo de 1941

Querido:

Estoy segura que me estoy volviendo loca otra vez. Siento que no puedo afrontar otro de esos terribles períodos. Esta vez no voy a poder recuperarme. Empiezo a oír voces y no puedo concentrarme. Así que voy a hacer lo que me parece mejor. Me has dado la mayor felicidad posible. Has sido en todos los sentido todo lo que se puede ser. No creo que dos personas puedan haber sido más felices, hasta que esta terrible enfermedad llegó. No puedo luchar más. Sé que estoy destrozando tu vida, que sin mí podrías trabajar. Y sé que lo harás. Ya ves que ni siquiera puedo escribir correctamente. No puedo leer. Lo que quiero decir es que toda la felicidad de mi vida te debo a ti. Has sido siempre paciente conmigo e increíblemente bondadoso. Quiero decirte que… Todo el mundo lo sabe. Si alguien pudiera haberme salvado, habrías sido tú. No me queda nada excepto la certeza de tu bondad. No puedo seguir destrozando tu vida por más tiempo.
No creo que dos personas pudieran haber sido más felices de lo que lo hemos sido nosotros.
V

15 jun. 2008

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Representación de los ESPACIOS en Wide Sargasso Sea (Ancho mar de los Sargazos) como breve ilustración



Cada persona posee su propia idea del espacio, la cual puede ser cambiada, distorsionada o engañosa.
Como parte de un ataque a las oposiciones binarias, Soja proporciona una explicación no solo para dos espacios sino también para tres. El primer espacio o La Práctica Espacial es el espacio percibido, comprende la producción y la reproducción. El mismo proporciona una ubicación determinada y un juego de características para casa formación social. Involucra prácticas sociales y cosas que las personas pueden hacer en dicho espacio.
El Segundo Espacio o el Espacio de Representaciones incluyen el espacio concebido, a su vez conceptualizado. ¿Cómo representamos el espacio? ¿Cómo lo concebimos?.
Finalmente, emerge un nuevo espacio: el Tercer Espacio. Este es el espacio directamente vivido. El que nace de la construcción y decontrucción de la dualidad Primer-Segundo Espacio y por lo tanto, concebimos el TERCERO COMO OTRO.
El Tercer Espacio es tanto una crítica a la supremacía del tiempo del pensamiento occidental como una sugerencia a intercambiar el tiempo con el espacio, la historia con la geografía, la duración con la distancia. Esto significa que la posición en el espacio (DONDE) es más importante que la posición en el tiempo (CUANDO). Por lo tanto, el Tercer Espacio se convierte en la base de una posible forma de entendimiento del espacio: espacios abandonados y recuperados, espacios para las minorías, espacios marginales, espacios clandestinos, espacios subterráneos, etc.

Wide Sargasso Sea incluye estos tres espacio, los cuales tienen una inter-relación a lo largo de la novela. Jean Rhys escribió sobre la emancipación de los esclavos de la Jamaica de propiedad Británica. EL personaje principal de la novela de Rhys queda atrapada entre sus dos culturas: por un lado, la jamaiquina, por el otro, la británica. Ambas provocan en ella un gran impacto, así como también una sensación de "no pertenencia".
En la novela, Jamaica es el Primer Espacio. Luego, el Segundo Espacio es representado por la descripción del lugar que hace Edward (esposo de Antoniette, quien es británico), que por momento ama el lugar y eventualmente termina odiándolo. El Tercer Espacio es el desconocido. Antoniette no encaja en ningún lado, Siente que no pertenece a ese lugar, no encuentra ni ve sus raíces y percibe y vive en un choque cultural continuo. No tiene lugar propio. Es una negra-blanca, la clase social más rechazada del lugar. Su madre era criolla, su padre británico. El no pertenecer, eventualmente la lleva a la dislocación.








Representation of SPACES Wide Sargasso Sea as a brief example.


Each person has an individual idea of space that may be changed, distorted or fooled.
As an attack to binary oppositions Soja gives explanation for not only two but three spaces. First space or Spacial Practice it's the perceived space, it embraces production and reproduction. It provides particular location and a spatial set of characteristics of each social formation. It involves social practice and things people can do in space. Second Space or the Representation of Space involves the conceived space that is conceptualized. How do we represent space? How do we conceive it?. Finally, a new space emerged: Third Space. It involves the space thar is directly lived space. It arises from the construction and deconstruction of the First Space-Second Space duality, then we fin the THIRDING AS OTHERING.
Thirdspace is both a critique of the supremacy of time in western thinking and a suggestion to exchange time with space, history with geography and duration with distance, which means that the position in space (WHERE) is more important than the position in time (WHEN). Therefore, Thirdspace becomes the ground for at possible new way to understand space: abandoned and recovered spaces, minority's spaces, marginal spaces, clandestine's spaces, underground spaces, etc.
Wide Sargasso Sea includes these three spaces, which are at interplay throughout the novel. Jean Rhys wrote about the emancipation of slaves in British-owned Jamaica. Rhys' main character, Antoniette gets trapped between her two cultures: on the one side, being Jamaican; on the other side, being British. Both of them causing a great impact on her, as well as a sense of not-belonging anywhere.
This novel presents Jamaica as the First Space. Then, the Second Space is represented by the description of the place, made by Edward (Antoniette's husband - British), who in turn loves and hates it. The Third Space it's unknown. Antoniette does not fit anywhere, she feels she does not belong anywhere, she sees herself with no of roots and she perceives and lives in a continual cultural clash. She does not have a place of her own. She is a white nigger, the most rejected class. Her mother was a creole, her father a British. Not belonging leads, in term, to dislocation.

22 mar. 2008

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
&
Kinds of Women in The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer, usually catalogued as "feminist". She published one of her best sellers in 1986, The Handmaid's Tale. This novel is considered an anti-utopian, or “dystopian” novel. This genre presents imagined worlds and societies that are not ideals, on the contrary, they are presented as restrictive. She wrote it shortly after the elections of Ronald Reagan in the US and Margaret Thatcher in GB, while the conservative revival in the West partly was fueled by a movement of religious conservatives who criticized what they perceived as the excesses of the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s.
Atwood wrote her novel under these circumstances, so she created the Republic of Gilead. Gilead is shown as a society founded on a return to conservative and traditional values as well as and gender roles, consequently, the subjugation of women by men. Gilead is governed by a group of conservative religious extremists that had taken power and turned the sexual revolution on its main problem. Taking these elements in mind, Atwood organised in her novel a hierarchy into which different categories of women fit according to class status, reproductive capacity or level of fertility and their function.
Atwood's categories of women socially accepted in Gilead
White women seem to be the default in the Gilead society. The reproductive value of white women in America is privileged over that of others.
Blacks and Jews, however, are quickly shuttled away per the fundamentalist Gileadan interpretations of the Bible. Blacks are considered Children of Ham and Jews are called Sons of Jacob.

Wives (blue dresses) are at the top social level permitted to women. They are women married to the Commanders who are the ruling circle of the new military dictatorship. Generally, they are unfertile for unknown reasons although it is presumed that it may be related to an unexplored ecological disaster or effects of a bioweapon.
Widows (wives after their husband's death) must dress in black.

Daughters are the natural or adopted children of Wives.

Aunts (brown dresses) train and monitor the Handmaids. It is a central organisational element of Gilead that women be used in the social repression of women. The Aunt system produces Handmaids, by re-educating fertile women who have broken Gileadean gender and social laws. Owing to the demands of Wives for fertile Handmaids, Gilead gradually increased the number of gender-crimes. However, the Aunt system attempts to promote the role of the Handmaid as an honorable one and seeks to legitimise it by removing any association with gender-criminality.

Handmaids (red dresses) fertile women whose social function is to bear children. Handmaids are subjected to a monthly reproductive ritual derived from the biblical story of Rachel and Leah's reproductive competition.
Marthas (green dresses) are older infertile women whose compliant nature and domestic skills recommend them to a life of domestic services in the houses of those with money (aristocrats and conservatives). Marthas are Black since they portrayed ancient times in which the American elite employed black slaves as domestic workers.
Econowives (multicoloured dresses: red, blue and green = multiple roles) women married to low-ranking men (those who do not belong to the ruling elite). They are expected to perform all the female functions: domestic duties, companionship, child-bearing.


Socially unacceptable categories of women in Gilead
Jezebels. (=Prostitutes). They are available only to Commanders. This category includes lesbians and attractive, educated women who were unable to adjust to handmaid status. These women are housed in the remains of a hotel. Jezebels dress in the remnants of sexualized costumes from "the time before": cheerleaders, school uniforms, and Playboy Bunny costumes.

Unwomen (grey dresses) are sterile women. Unwomen as a category embraces all women unable to fit within the Republic of Gilead's gender categories: widows, lesbians, nuns and politically dissident women and Handmaids who fail to produce a child within three chances are sent to the Colonies (areas of agricultural production and deadly pollution). Unwomen are simply regarded as categorically incapable of social integration as their society rejects them utterly. Homosexuals are declared Gender Traitors, and either executed, or sent to the Colonies to die a slow death.

20 feb. 2008

In the Skin of a Lion

HISTORIOGRAPHIC METAFICTION: IN THE SKIN OF A LION

When talking about Canada as a country and its own History, we get to know that Canada as a country, has long been characterized by its diverse ethnic composition. For this reason, I have chosen Michael Ondaatje to characterize Canada's diversity. He is a Sri-Lankan Canadian writer, perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film, The English Patient. However, I consider his novel In the Skin of a Lion a great book in which Ondaatje portraits the “unofficial” stories associated with anonymity and passivity of immigrants in Canada’s “official” History.

In this book, the process of reconstructing personal narratives and the act of telling them involves a creative process by which characters become aware of their importance in history and they begin telling their “stories”. For these writers, to take responsibility for one's own story is a way of legitimising and appropriating one's life to compensate for historical omissions. To account for the omissions and partiality of the “official history” of Canada, the alternative the author presents is to celebrate a plurality of private and / or local narratives that give voice to the forgotten peoples, creating in this way a poliphonic text in which minorities can tell their personal stories and the stories of their cities leaving aside their anonymity and passivity and becoming part of it.

In the Skin of a Lion it is set mainly in Toronto, Ontario, and tells the story of immigrants who built the city. By doing so, Ondaatje gives a voice to the blood, sweat and tears of these workers who have never been recognized by 'official' history. Ondaatje gives importance to the construction of Toronto landmarks, such as the Prince Edward Viaduct and the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant, and he focuses on the lives of the immigrant workers. While writing about Toronto’s History, many characters become aware of the fact that they are left out when retelling the history of the city. Ondaatje present the character’s stories to his readers in a fragmented, non-linear way which the reader has to unfold them while reading the novel. For example, the title of the novel (In the Skin of a Lion) it is a call for action, it implies responsibility for one's own story and for its narration in order to compensate for historical silences, and Alice (one of Ondaatje’s characters) states: "...Each person had their moment when they assumed the skins of wild animals, when they took responsibility for the story..." (Page 157). In the introduction of the novel, before the actual narration starts, Ondaatje also incorporates a framework story, that of a man telling a story to a girl, that opens and ends the novel and gives coherence to the many personal narratives: “This is a story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning. She listens and asks questions as the vehicle travels through the darkness...” (Page 2).

Moreover, Ondaatje’s characters are also self-conscious of how the narration is organized, for instance, this comes into evidence on page 148 when one of the characters says: “...All these fragments of memory...so we can retreat from the gran story and stumble accidentally upon a luxury, one of those ground pools where we can sit still. Those moments, those few pages in a book we go back and forth...”. Besides this consciousness of being into a story, Ondaatje’s characters are also aware of their marginalized position in it. For example, the Nicholas Temelcoff is conscious of his anonymity and marginality and as regards this the following lines are written: "...He was anonymous..(..) He would never leave his name where his skill had been. He was one of those who have a fury or a sadness of only being described by someone else. A tarrer of roads, a house-builder, a painter, a thief –yet he was invisible to all around him..." (Page 199). He feels his story has never been legitimised. When Nicholas Temelcoff realises that “His own life was no longer a single story but part of a mural, which was a falling together of accomplices. Patrick saw the wondrous night web --all these fragments of a human order..”. (Page 145), as a consequence of this, he decides he should take responsibility for his story and compensate for omissions to appropriate his own life: "...he has been sewn into history. Now he will begin to tell stories..." (Page 149)

I think that In the Skin of a Lion includes a reflexive task on the part of the writer which implies a way of narrating the past with intense self-consciousness about the way it is done. So, rather than viewing history as a definable and conclusive object, historiographic metafiction sees engagements with history as being discursive, situational, and textual. This is what I think Ondaatje intended to do, he tried to problematize the nature of Canadian historical facts in his novel and at the same time, he tried to blur the line between history and fiction in order to present instead of an “official” history, several “stories” that represent the reality of some other Canadian citizens who were not taking into account in their status as such.

The different stories they present are characterised by their fragmentation, indeterminacy, silences, lack of closure and by giving voices to the ex-centric and long forgotten protagonists of the mainstream History. Probably, their aim is to recover the past so as to fill in the gaps and present a different Canada from the one we have been told about; that Canada of a white saxons descendants which represent a fair society devoid of problems like immigration and multiculturalism. They have taken the responsibility for telling the unsayable stories of Canadians citizens who were erased from the “official” history of their cities and country.