[ilds] RG Justine 1.4 -- active reading & Justine

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Tue Apr 17 09:16:49 PDT 2007


>
>
>Credit goes to the author. 
>
Yes--absolutely, in the sense that a real writer named LD has written 
the book called /Justine /which is still being published today and, 
sometimes, with greater or lesser degrees of attention, read.

But how can we be so naive in claiming that we can know exactly what LD 
"meant" when he set out to write his book?   Invoking "magic" and 
"sorcery"  seems most charming, but please give me specifics of how the 
holy spirit of LD comes over and sits on my shoulder to teach me his 
insights.  If we start with the /Justine /itself, as it relates to the 
larger /Quartet/, we find all sorts of problems set up between us and 
easy assumptions about what LD "meant."  For instance, LD creates a 
narrator that we readers must learn to view most critically, despite the 
lure of romance.  The books work by means of manifold ironies, 
fragments, revocations.  "Art like life is an open secret."  Puzzle over 
that one for minute, or for a lifetime, and I think that you will find 
the Demiurge doing quite a bit of chuckling at all of us here in the 
Cabal who seek out "God" . . . .

I think /Justine /and the /Quartet /require more of their readers than 
moony adoration, and that is the highest praise I can give LD.  (That 
said, I challenge anyone to surpass my own rampant bouts of moony 
adoration for the /Quartet /and LD.  Oh, Brother Ass!  I am far gone.)  
Puresewarden's many pronouncements on the difficulties of reading and on 
the tensions between author and reader suggest that there is nothing 
simple about the reading activity or the relationship:

        "I love the French edition with its uncut pages.  I would not
        want a reader too lazy to use a knife on me."

        "I have always believed in letting my reader sink or skim."

        When I was chided by Balthazar for being equivocal I replied
        without a moment's conscious thought: "Words being what they
        are, people being what they are, perhaps it would be better
        always to say the opposite of what one means"

>As to "multiple readings," multiple does not mean valid.  
>  
>
I find the full span of  the /Quartet /to be leading precisely towards 
"multiple readings," not towards final revelation.  What else is its 
central drama?  Why else would we go back to it?

CLS

-- 
**********************
Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu
**********************

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