Practice run for Report #2

Here are two short passages from Thinks…, one in Helen’s first-person narration, the other in 3rd-person Behaviourist narration (though it’s mainly dialogue). If you’d like a practice run on the task for the next assignment, try translating one or both of these into either third-person narrator’s voice (if you choose passage #1) or into either Helen’s or Ralph’s voice (if you choose passage # 2). Remember the constraints of the assignment.

Then, as soon as you can, send me your translation over email. Please indicate whether you’d allow me to post the translation on the blog, and if yes, whether you’d like it to be anonymous or named. Ideally, I’d like to have stuff to discuss by Wednesday this week, but I guess next Wednesday’s more likely.

Passage #1.

Nicholas Beck, silver-haired Professor of Fine Art, had been invited to make a pair with me, but only in the table-planning sense, because Jasper informed me that he is a celibate homosexual, on what authority I don’t know. He moved to Gloucester fairly recently from Cambridge, and has that high-table trick of being able to make urbane conversation about any topic whatsoever without saying anything memorable or profound. Jasper kept asking him anxiously what he thought of the wine—apparently he used to buy the wine for his college. Beck was politely approving but implicitly critical of Jasper’s offerings, e.g. ‘Australian reds really have improved out of all recognition.’” (David Lodge.Thinks…Toronto: Penguin, 2002. 23–24.)

Passage # 2

“Helen repeats the quotation, and says, ‘You see—you have Kate’s consciousness there, her thoughts, her feelings, her impatience, her hesitation about leaving or staying, her perception of her own appearance in the mirror, the nasty texture of the armchair’s upholstery, “at once slippery and sticky”—how’s that for qualia? And yet it’s all narrated in the third person, in precise, elegant, well-formed sentences. It’s subjective and objective.’

‘Well, it’s effectively done, I grant you,’ says Ralph. ‘But it’s literary fiction, not science. James can claim to know what’s going on in Kate Whatshername’s head because he put it there, he invented her. Out of his own experience and folk psychology.”

‘There’s nothing folksy about Henry James.’

He waves this quibble aside.” (Ibid. 43)

The main advice I have is to pay careful attention to what may initially seem like trivial aspects of the text: diction, verb tense, quotation versus paraphrase, point of view, etc. Also, if this seems hard–well, it should!


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