Some of my work on Updike was discussed on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan.
Some of my work on Ross Macdonald was discussed on Pretty Sinister Books.
Here is my interview with superstar music impresario Wendy Starland.
Here is my interview with Pulitzer Prize nominee Olympia Vernon.
Here is my interview with the editor of Best American Short Stories, Heidi Pitlor.
Here is my interview with acclaimed artist Emil Kazaz.
My musing on John D. Macdonald, Travis McGee, and the chicks was picked up on The Rap Sheet.

John Updike's MARRY ME




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"Subtexts, Dialogue and Names in John Updike's Marry Me."  
An abstract for a possible paper on Updike.

Subtexts - In the early pages of the novel we learn that Sally is reading Camus' novel The Stranger.  In literary scholarship and commentary volumes have been written about Camus' use of the powerful Algerian sunshine as a symbol in the novel; mirroring this, there are several passages in the opening sequences of Marry Me that invoke the sun's rays in a similar fashion.  What is Updike's intention here?  Perhaps an inside joke for fellow literati?  Perhaps a nod to Camus, sincere praise?  Maybe neither - maybe simply straightforward realism?  Maybe it is a device meant to show us Sally's shallow, pretentious nature - she can't recognize that she is experiencing the same phenomenon in nature that the main character in the book she is reading is experiencing?  What, exactly?
Similar investigation of subtext will be made concerning the novel's name checking of Alberto Moravia, Ray Charles, Picasso, Marlene Dietrich, etc.

Dialogue - As might be expected of people in a situation such as the novel depicts, people say things that don't cohere.  For instance, at one point Jerry says to Sally, "I don't want to fight with you.  I never fight with women.  I don't think we should take any risks until we know what we're going to do."  Yet barely ten pages later, with nothing of the kind decided, he says "I don't want you to take risks for me, I want to take them for you."  Sally immediately thinks *But you won't.* This kind of emotional confusion happens again and again in the language - and we can see it but the characters are oblivious.

Names - maybe "The Unnamed" would be better.  There are numerous instances where Updike is almost on the verge of German Impressionism, presenting certain secondary characters more as types than individuals.  We might say, So what? - except that there are other, also secondary, characters who appear for just flickering seconds yet have very carefully thought out names - why?









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