Jan 222010

I finished reading D. H. Lawrence’s story “None of That” which Kenneth Rexroth mentioned in his introduction to the selected poems. What’s interesting about the story, other than the fact that Ethel reminds me of someone I used to date, is the narrative setup. There is a first person narrator who is solely an interlocutor, not a character in the story at all. And he meets an old acquaintance in Venice who tells him in dialogue the story of Ethel and the bullfighter Cuesta. (I love Lawrence’s impish directness–e.g. the male orgasmic “spurt of blood” as Cuesta stands over the dying bull.) This second narrator is involved in the story but mostly as an observer and a go-between. In effect, the text is all telling and in dialogue and the narrators are nested. If you look at Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, you’ll see it’s similar. There is a first person narrator who’s barely mentioned who is listening to Marlow tell the story. This is a really difficult narrative structure to carry off nowadays, difficult because it’s hard to achieve immediacy–or maybe none of us is good enough to write it.

I was almost asleep, then made the mistake of reading Robert Wrigley’s poem “Thatcher Bitchboy” which I thought was going to be something about gay s&m but turned out to be about a boy watching his beloved chicken-stealing dog being led off to die. Obviously, I couldn’t sleep after that and had to read some comforting Lawrence death poems. E.g. “Kissing and Horrid Strife”


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