Originally posted by BRussell
Absolutely. Are you going to post your lectures here? And when's the final date to drop with no effect on my GPA?
That was yesterday. I'm sorry. Each day you attend class from here on out results in a .5% reduction of your final grade.
And while I don't really lecture (it's a bit more like a free-wheeling discussion), I'll be glad to report in with some comments.
Today, for instance, we're going to be talking about the author's note, paying specific attention to the ways that it lays out the structure of the novel:
Martel creates an unnamed narrator who has published (like Martel) an earlier novel that got no real traction and who then sets out to go to India to write a book about Portugal in 1939 (presumably Portugal under Salazar?) which fails. Note the ways that this narrator, as he plans his trip to India, transforms not only 1939 Portugal into a fiction, but also India itself, concluding finally that "that's what fiction is about, isn't it, the selective transforming of reality? The twisting of it to bring out its essence?" (viii). This is, in many ways, the central problem of the book, isn't it? cf. p. 302.
As this narrator's fiction of a fiction fails, he then creates a fiction of the rest of the world, mailing the bits of the failed novel to a fictional address in Siberia with a fictional return address in Bolivia.
So we have a fictional author creating fictions within fictions and then fictions of the fictions within the fictions...and on and on.
But when he meets Mamaji (Mr. Adirubasamy), everything changes. It is from Mamaji that he first learns the story of Pi. Indeed, Mamaji tells him that it is a "story that will make you believe in God," which, when it is all said and done, the fictional author agrees with.
But note that choice of word: make
. Why make
? To make is an act of force, isn't it?
This is the point at which the structure of the novel really gets made clear:
Martel creates a fiction of an author (who bears a striking resemblance to Martel) who meets a fictional character names Francis Adirubasamy who tells him the potentially very
fictional story of fictional character, Pi. Then a grown-up Pi tells the fictional author the story of what happens to him when he is 14. Then some fictional Japanese men send the fictional author some fictional documents which then confirm for him the story that the fictional characters have been telling him, and so he decides to invent another
Pia fiction of the fictionto tell his own story.
And then things get interesting. The narrator tells us that "It seemed natural that Mr. Patel's story should be told mostly in the first personin his voice and through his eyes. But any inaccuracies are or mistakes mine" (xi-xii). Now, setting aside for the moment all the hedging that happens here (e.g. "seemed" and "mostly"), what are we to do with this idea that the mistakes are the responsibility of the narrator? And why would he admit that?
Finally, as the narrator thanks all of the fictional people who made the story possible, he sneaks in this: "Also, I am indebted to Mr. Moacyr Scliar, for the spark of life" (xii).
Scliar wrote a book called Max and the Cats
, about a young boy who's trapped on a lifeboat with a Puma (I believe).
Fictions within fictions within fictions within realities within fictions within realities, all ending with the claim that "if we do not support our artists [who are, of course, makers of fakery], then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams" (xii).