Friday, October 15, 2010

Breaking the fourth wall

Current book: A Room with a View
Pages read: 72 - 158

Well, the scandal is surprisingly unexciting, since all that happens is that George Emerson stumbles away in embarrassment and Miss Bartlett whisks Lucy back to the carriage. The whole party leaves, actually, since there seems to be a storm coming, but they do so without George, whom no one can find. They get back to Florence just fine, and, much later that night, George does, too. Lucy, pressured by Miss Bartlett, agrees to flee to Rome, the next stop on their tour, early the next morning.

At this point, the narrative jumps ahead a few months, to Lucy's home in England after she's returned. She has just gotten engaged to man named Cecil, whom she met in Rome, and who is clearly a jerk. He's incredibly snobby, but less about money than about intellectual prowess and high taste, which is, usually, just as obnoxious. Anyway, just after the engagement, the Emersons of the kissing scandal rent a nearby house. Lucy is conscience-stricken, not having told Cecil about said kissing incident, and she doesn't know what to do. Miss Barlett eventually comes up to stay at Lucy's for the wedding and adds the pressure of having the only other person who's aware of the scandal also present. To add to the trouble, Lucy's brother, Freddy, is becoming friends with George. Lucy, therefore, sees him oftener than she'd like and finds herself attracted to him (though she doesn't really realize it).

Well, it's honestly a bit silly. I mean, it's fairly well written, sure, but the subject material seems a tell the truth. If this book were translated into modern diction and jazzed up for the publishing trade, it'd be a pink paperback located on the "chick lit" table. Seriously. That does mean, though, that's it's pretty entertaining.

Cecil being a total snob without really being a snob about money is an interesting interpretation of class difference. He just sort of places himself in a higher intellecutal and cultural bracket than everyone else and gets peevish when they violate his sense of dignity. (Honestly, it hit a little close to home. I have tendencies that are not always unlike Cecil's. For example, there's a bit where Forster describes how Cecil sneers at Freddy while the latter is singing comic songs, and I was reminded, uncomfortably, of my inability to tolerate the broad comedy of popular movies like Anchorman, Superbad, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.) I was impressed that Forster thought to include a subtly different take on snobbery and hierarchy.

Also, one oddly glaring flaw occurs when Forster first introduces Cecil; he says something like, "We've come far enough in the story now that Cecil must be described." There's been no narrative presence at all up to this point, and frankly, I was annoyed by the sudden inclusion of one. You can't just turn to the camera and talk, as it were, whenever you feel like it. It has to be established early and continue throughout. Poor form, Forster. Poor form.

No comments:

Post a Comment


A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)