Monday, April 28, 2014

Setting the Tone

As I see many other people did, I immediately noticed the sentence in the preface which states: "One consideration which deterred me was, that, having kept no journal during a greater portion of the time in which I was absent, I feared I should not be able to write, from mere memory, a statement so minute and connected as to have the appearance of that truth it would really possess, barring only the natural and unavoidable exaggeration to which all of us are prone when detailing events which have had powerful influence in exciting the imaginative faculties" (43). Obviously, given our discussions in class, I found this very interesting. It particularly brought me back to an idea that I presented at the end of our last class. Both Lansing and Albanov present very early on their take on the "truth" of their narrative; Lansing promises truth, while Albanov acknowledges his own concern about time altering his memory. I wondered in class whether their "setting the tone" in this way affected your reading of the texts. To answer honestly for myself, I found myself thinking "was this how it happened?" and "is this real?" and "why did he choose to include that?" in the texts that warned me of their own prejudices. However, I appreciated it more, since I felt like they had forced me to acknowledge the nature of narratives and our own "slanting" that always happens when we relay events. While the tone that was set affected my reading by making me more suspicious, I felt that I engaged in the text more because it welcomed me to doubt.
With this, I was brought back to the idea Janelle posed about Voyage of the Narwhal: these stories, the ones that engage with the slanting of narrative (even within their own text), may act as Bildungsromans (I couldn't resist bringing it back to this) for the reader as they require a more critical reading. I think after these last few books and the tones they set with this admissions of prejudice (or conversely professions of truth) made me believe even more in this idea. What do you guys think?

1 comment:

  1. I'm inclined to agree with you about the effect of admitting biases at the beginning of texts. On the one hand I feel like it doesn't matter at all, that all accounts are valid and authentic regardless of whether they are completely accurate, and there is no essentially true event to compare to. On the other hand, I definitely feel like I appreciate it when the authors admit that they are biased or that they might misremember things. I think that admitting that there might be some slanting makes me appreciate the writing more.