MA Week Three - the non-Amis side of things

This is over a week late; I'm getting slack already.  If I carry on like this, you'll be hearing about the second semester sometime in 2020.  What I'm doing is a deferred narrative - thwarting reader expectation.  Hehe.

So!  Last Monday, we had the third of our Forms of Fiction seminars, and we examined Henry James' What Maisie Knew.  It wasn't a particularly popular book amongst the group - I know I found it difficult, and for the length (around three hundred pages, I think, though I don't have it to hand right now) it took considerably longer to read than I'd expected.  Anyway, our tutor remarked that James' later works are generally thought to be trickier than his earlier works; I'd only read The Turn Of The Screw before, so I was nodding along to that.  We examined the book with regard to Maisie as the focalising character - her child's perspective, what she does or doesn't understant; what the reader knows, or can glean, that Maisie herself may or may not understand.  It's a text that deals with the fallout of a divorce for a child who's shunted between her parents in a pretty sloppy joint custody agreement.  In James' time this was unexplored territory, and so the novel is an interesting psychological study of a child in what would have seemed a very modern situation.  Somebody brought up the impenatrability of the text as a certain type of psychological logic for the child's inability to clearly understand and articulate her peculiar lifestyle.  We talked about the notion of moral judgement in the book; how Maisie is a passive receptacle and messenger at first, an innocent, and how she later develops her own morailty - or seems to, anyway - she learns from negative example, and we see corruption struggle with that childish innocence.  She moves from objectivity to subjectivity over the course of the narrative. 

Phew.

Then on to the workshop; we had novel extracts from two of the girls in the group to analyse this time.  It's tricky doing a crit on an excerpt (she says, planning to make her class do exactly that two weeks later) - there isn't a complete arc; you've no idea how anything will develop, or has developed up until the given point.  These were both opening chapters, though, so that helped.  I'm not going to go into any detail about other people's work on here, just try to make general observations; this particular workshop was very smooth with useful feedback (I thought, anyway) and as usual, doing the critiques was very helpful for developing my own work-in-progress.

Next up, an event I attended as part of the Mancheter Literature Festival.  Expect a post tomorrow.  I'm staring down the barrel of a backlog of posts here, so I'm going to schedule them to pop up throughout the week.  I'm rather internetless on Thursdays and Fridays, so I'll let Blogger so the work for me.  Mwuahaha.

2 comments:

kim mcgowan said...

It's a sad thing. I'm learning more from reading your blog than I did going to my own seminars. You're filtering out the me me me bit that was muffling my hearing - I think.

(I sound drunk don't I? I'm taking stuff with pseudoephedrin in...)

kim

Valerie O'Riordan said...

I'll have what you're having, Kim!