Day 10: page 303

Posted on November 10, 2007 by Chris Lumens in Demons.

I’ve slowed down quite a bit as lots of other things have come up recently, but I’m still on pace to finish by the end of the month. Even with all the breaks, I’ve averaged about the same speed as with Gravity’s Rainbow. I guess I’m not slacking off as much as it feels like.

Finally, things have started to happen. The sons of the main characters have made their reappearance and immediately got to screwing things up. There’s been a duel, a promised suicide, talk of denunciating people to the government, and some implied hired killings. Of course they’re still concerned about polite high society so all these things are done in secret. It’s much more interesting now than it was a mere fifty pages ago. The sons seem to be much more interesting characters than the parents as the parents are too caught up in worrying about society and preserving their status. On the other hand, the sons seem more free to do what they’d like. I’m betting there will be some interesting consequences later on.

After some thinking, I’ve decided that we are supposed to detest Stepan and Varvara (the main characters throughout the first third of the book). I’ve mentioned before how I just don’t care about their problems or concerns since they seem so petty and ridiculous. Being embarassed by someone tripping in some rich landowner’s salon just isn’t an event that I can identify with. I think that’s the whole point. We’re not supposed to like these people, perhaps to feel more sympathy for whatever is coming. Regardless, I think the narrarator is giving us his biased opinion about the main characters regardless of what he might explicitly say.

I talked to an English Ph.D student last night who was writing her thesis on narrator bias, so she was very interested in this part. She suggested that there was certainly some bias in the narration and also that I should get used to caring about the problems of the idle Russian rich since they may not be anything else to care about in the book. She also suggested that I would enjoy Ulysses, a book that we have previously considered for a Death Pact. Perhaps that’s the next one. I recommended Gravity’s Rainbow, of course.