[ilds] [RG 2003 Justine 1.1]

James Gifford gifford at ualberta.ca
Fri Apr 6 12:18:20 PDT 2007


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003 08:02:39 -0400
From: Charles Sligh
To: Anna Lillios 
Subject: a note on asterisks &c.


Bill Godshalk's elaboration on Fry's different ways of
reading--"linearly" and "globally"--prompt me to another
observation about reading _Justine_ and the _Quartet_ to
which she belongs.

I've already mentioned the power exerted by the novel's
title, _Justine_, which for most readers will serve as a
framing device, a tool to focus reading--a magnet with
which to direct readerly attention and draw up all the iron
filaments of details relating to "Justine," whoever she may
be. . . .

And Bill has correctly pointed out that those two
epigraphs--the first from Freud's letters;  the second from
De Sade's _Justine_--exercise a similar power.  "Justine,"
whoever she may be, may or may not have something to do
with De Sade and his enthusiasms.  And Freud's
cunning announcement, that he conceives "every sexual act
as a process in which four persons involved," will no doubt
surprise new readers, alerting them to certain themes to
come, when they come.

All of this apparatus, this textual machinery surrounding
the main narrative, including titles, subtitles,
dedication, the "Note," and the epigraphs make it clear, at
least to me, that the novel wants to make us hyperaware
that our reading is never really linear.  Instead, we read
back and forth against a horizon of past texts (some of
which are included by our Author) and past experience.

And then those pesky asterisks (*) in the text (1.3 & 1.4),
which we haven't even mentioned yet.

These little routing paths--hyperlinks, if you will--cause
a great deal of trouble if we a trying to keep our readings
"linear."   And, I'll ask here, what reader--once he or she
has been sent on the search for a referent and eventually
discovered the "Notes in the Text"--what reader does not
give in to curiosity and rummage through all of the other
"Workpoints"/"Consequential Data" and translations that LD
(or the narrator? or ?) has apparently stored within the
closing pages of _Justine_?

The book certainly raises our awareness of the urge to read
linear; but then it invites us, sometimes roughly, to read
differently.

CLS

----------------------
Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
University of Virginia
cls9k at virginia.edu

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