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Double-Dose of Vega – Blog #15

Posted by RachelE on June 28, 2011

According to Jahn, textual or intratextual voices are those of the narrator, whereas the extratextual voice is that of the author. One normally considers the author’s voice in two scenarios only: (a) when one has reason to believe that it is more or less identical to that of the narrator, or (b) when the author’s and the narrator’s voices are likely to be significantly different — in other words, when one assumes that the author intentionally uses a narrative voice distinct from his or her own (N3.1.7). In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle by Edgardo Vega Yunqué, the reader has reason to believe that the voice of the author is identical to that of the narrator. Vega Yunqué, who plays the role of author and narrator simultaneously, makes it obvious in the text of the story that he is both author and narrator. While it is obvious there is a narrator to the story, Vega Yunqué throws in lines, such as “I won’t reveal the ending yet because it wouldn’t be fair” (Vega Yunqué 209), and “When I asked Lady Liberty what she meant by the message on her T-shirt, she simply said: ‘Vega, sometimes you are such a schmuck” (Vega Yunqué 116). Quotes such as these make it obvious to the reader that not only did Vega Yunqué create a narrator for his novel, he decided to play the role himself and becomes part of the story.

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Hey, I’m Talking to You! – Blog #14

Posted by RachelE on June 28, 2011

“Narrative theorists often use the oppositional pair overtness and covertness to characterize a narrative voice” (Jahn N1.9).  Overt narrators have a distinctive voice in the story, while covert narrators have a largely indistinct voice (Jahn N1.9). In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle by Edgardo Vega Yunqué, the narrator has a highly distictive voice in the story. When a narrator is covert, the reader doesn’t sense the narrator in the story, but when the narrator is overt, the reader realizes that the story could not be told and the novel wouldn’t be possible without the narrator. The narrator helps and addresses the reader throughout the story, saying things like, “Oh, a little note before going on” (Vega Yunqué 84), or “Oh, now you’re pissed because this is a political novel. Duh! You don’t think I’d go to all this trouble simply to entertain you, do you? Anyway, deal with it” (Vega Yunqué 149). The reader gets the sense that there are some things in the story that wouldn’t be understood without the narrator, or that the narrator adds a transitional element to the story making it flow more smoothly. The narrator makes him- or herself known in the story and clearly addresses the reader as the one telling the story, making the narrator overt.

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Don’t You Lie to Me – Blog #13

Posted by RachelE on June 28, 2011

When I write a paper or work hard on a piece of writing, the last thing I want to hear about it is criticism. I expect everyone to love it as much as I do, and woe to the one who insults my writing. However, Macedonio Fernandez doesn’t seem to think this way. In his book, The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), Fernandez claims that:

The greatest risk one runs in publishing a novel at this stage in life is that nobody knows your age; mine is 73, and I hope that it will rescue me from a potential judgment such as: “For the First Good Novel it isn’t bad at all, and since it’s the author’s first novel, we predict a brilliant future, if he perseveres in his aesthetic conjurings with strong will and discipline. In any case, we’ll await his future work before rendering a definitive judgment.” (Fernandez 10)

Fernandez wants people to criticize his novel. He wants the critics to judge his novel as an isolated piece of literature, without being biased due to his previous works or the promise of future ones. This desire of an author to have his work fairly critiqued was seen with Miguel de Cervantes and his novel, Don Quixote of La Mancha. In the prologue of the book, Cervantes explains to the reader that:

[…] If a father should happen to sire an ugly and ill-favored child, the love he bears it claps a bandage over his eyes and so blinds him to its faults that he reckons them as talents and graces and cites them to his friends as examples of wit and elegance. But I, who appear to be Don Quixote‘s father, am in reality his stepfather and do not intend to follow the usual custom, nor to beg you, almost with tears in my eyes, as others do, dearest reader, to pardon or dissemble the faults you may see in this child of mine. (Cervantes 41)

Like Fernandez, this quote is Cervantes’ warning to the reader. While many authors see their novels as flawless works of perfection containing ideas that cannot be disputed, Cervantes feels differently. He knows his work is imperfect. One can even say Cervantes desires the reader to critique his work and find faults with it. Cervantes refuses to call himself the father of Don Quixote, and rather, seems to feel more like a stepfather. Even Cervantes himself can see the imperfections and impending criticisms of his work, just like Fernandez.

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Book Everlasting – Blog #12

Posted by RachelE on June 28, 2011

“But the eternal, of course, is not quite true. The infinite is an invention” (Fernandez VII).

Macedonio Fernandez, in his novel The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), is trying to achieve the seemingly impossible. He is trying to create an everlasting novel; a story that will last forever and be eternal. However, even before beginning his attempt, Fernandez admits to the readers (in the above quote) that he realizes what he is trying to achieve is almost impossible. No one knows if there really is such a thing as “eternal”. Who can prove something can be everlasting if no one lives long enough to actually witness it? Humans created the “infinite” as a concept and idea to create hope in people that things do live on after death. It’s nothing more than an invention until proven true, which isn’t possible. But even though the idea of creating an eternal novel would seem daunting and a waste of time, Fernandez believes in the possibility of doing something no one else has ever done and surpassing the boundaries of literature set by other authors. He believes he can create something that can exist beyond this fleeting world and live forever, separating his novel from the time-bound existence of mankind.

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Rachel, Always Check Your Blind Spot – Blog #11

Posted by RachelE on June 27, 2011

At that moment, Rachel’s heart was pounding and she was sweating profusely. She couldn’t believe this was happening. The day had started out like any other – as usual, Rachel was forcing myself to get out of bed for school. No, she wasn’t getting up at the crack of dawn; yet, being summertime, 11 o’clock a.m. felt like dawn. She lethargically got dressed, took one look in the mirror and realized it was as good as it was ever going to get, and hurried downstairs before she gave in and climbed back into bed. She skipped breakfast, which was the normal routine in the mornings, grabbed a juicebox and left the house. Rachel lived about 10 minutes from the Long Island Expressway and the drive to the highway was uneventful this specific morning. She began to hope that the rest of my day would go as smoothly as her drive to the highway. Things started to get even better when she entered the highway and saw the traffic was moving well and it wouldn’t take her long to get to school. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief and turned on her left turn signal, changing lanes until she was driving in the fastest lane, closest to the divider on the highway. She was really enjoying this drive and had even started humming along to the songs she didn’t like on the radio. While changing stations on the radio looking for one she could actually enjoy, she noticed a car gaining speed in the lane to her right. The car didn’t seem threatening so she didn’t pay it any attention as it eventually caught up to her. Rachel didn’t realize that the car was trying to get into her lane but couldn’t because of her car. The car sped up until it was ahead of her but was still in the second lane. Unfortunately, Rachel ended up in the most dangerous spot she could possibly be: in the car’s blind spot. Suddenly and without warning, the car swerved into her lane. She honked multiple times, which she never does under normal circumstances, but it was too late. The only way to avoid crashing was to turn away from the car and into the highway divider. She turned her steering wheel to the left and waited for the impact of the crash. And yet, at the last second, the car next to hers realized what was happening and turned back into its lane. Rachel sharply turned the steering wheel the other way and narrowly missed the divider. And that, my friends, is the story of how Rachel almost died.

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Who ARE You? – Blog #10

Posted by RachelE on June 21, 2011

The point of attack in a story is the event chosen to begin the primary action line. There are three options: ab ovo, in medias res, and in ultimas res (Jahn N4.9). A story beginning ab ovo starts with the birth of the protagonist and a state of non-conflict. For a beginning in medias res, the point of attack is set close to the climax of the action, and for a beginning in ultimas res, the point of attack occurs after the climax and near the end (Jahn N4.9). In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle by Edgardo Vega Yunque, the point of attack in the story begins in media res. The story begins with “the night Omaha Bigelow’s life changed forever” (Yunque 1). The narrator does not begin with an introduction about Omaha Bigelow, such as who he is or where he came from. The story begins abruptly in the middle of the action, and the readers start off the story without any information about this character named Omaha Bigelow. Even after the first line of the story, the readers are still not given any information about Omaha Bigelow and are no closer to figuring out who this character is.  The narrator just continues with the action of the plot, telling the readers that “he was thrown brutally out of the Friendly Fire Club on Allen Street” (Yunque 1). Because the story begins in the middle of the action and without describing “the birth of the protagonist” (Jahn N4.9), it can be said that The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle begins in media res.

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Who, Me? Yes, You. Couldn’t Be! – Blog #9

Posted by RachelE on June 21, 2011

A homodiegetic narrator always tells a story of personal experience, whereas a heterodiegetic narrator tells a story about other people’s experiences (Jahn N1.13). In The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle by Edgardo Vega Yunque, the story is being told by a heterodiegetic narrator. The narrator begins the story with the announcement that “the night Omaha Bigelow’s life changed forever began quite badly” (Yunque 1).  The narrator continues with descriptions of Omaha Bigelow, such as, “Omaha Bigelow was as high as a kite” (Yunque 1), and “Omaha Bigelow was feeling much too mellow” (Yunque 1). The narrator does not use pronouns such as “I” or “me” because a heterodiegetic narrator tells a story about the experiences of others (Jahn N1.13), (in this case, the story of Omaha Bigelow), and not a story of the narrator’s personal experience (Jahn N1.13). The narrator even goes so far as to repeatedly use Bigelow’s name instead of the pronoun “he” in the narration, such as “Omaha protested” (Yunque 2) and “Omaha said fuck” (Yunque 2). This can be seen as a method used by the narrator to emphasize to the reader that this story is about Omaha Bigelow and not about anybody else – especially the narrator.

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Oh Wait, I Have Another Story to Tell You… – Blog #8

Posted by RachelE on June 20, 2011

Story-telling can occur on many different levels. A matrix narrative is a narrative containing a hyponarrative, or a story within a story (Jahn N2.4.1). A first-degree narrative is a narrative that is not embedded in any other narrative; essentially, this is the original narrative itself (Jahn N2.4.2). A second-degree narrative is the narrative that is embedded in a first-degree narrative; the story that’s within the first story (Jahn N2.4.2). Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes can be seen as a matrix narrative containing a second-degree narrative. The narrator begins the story by introducing the protagonist, Don Quixote, and later on, his squire, Sancho Panza. The readers are told of more than one adventure had by the knight-errant Don Quixote and his squire, but at one point in the story, the “pleasant history stopped and was left unfinished without [the] author giving a hint where to find the missing part” (Cervantes 106). The narrator then takes over the story and begins another story: the tale of finding the missing part of the history of Don Quixote. The hyponarrative begins with the introductory sentence, “the discovery happened in the following manner…” (Cervantes 107). The narrator then goes on to tell the readers about the journey to discover and obtain the continuation for the story. This tale becomes the second-degree narrative within the original text of Don Quixote of La Mancha, making Don Quixote of La Mancha a matrix narrative.

(different version)

De Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote of La Mancha. Trans. Walter Starkie. New York: Signet Classic, 1964. Print.

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What Would You Do Without Me? – Blog #7

Posted by RachelE on June 20, 2011

In a homodiegetic narrative, the story is told by a narrator who is also one of story’s acting characters, meaning the narrator is also a character on the level of action (Jahn N1.10).  In a heterodiegetic narrative, the story is told by a narrator who is not present as a character in the story. The narrator has a different nature compared to the rest of the characters in the story (Jahn N1.10). In Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, the narrator is a homodiegetic narrator who plays a major role in the action of the story. At one point in the story, “the pleasant history stopped and was left unfinished” (Cervantes 106). The narrator then becomes a character and the responsibility of “searching for the conclusion of this agreeable story” (Cervantes 107) falls to the narrator. Although the story of Don Quixote cannot continue, the narrator decides to tell the readers the story of how the continuation of the history was found, and how when finding papers containing a similar story, “immediately the thought struck me that these parchments contained the history of Don Quixote” (Cervantes 108). The story could not have continued without the help of the narrator. Even though the narrator is not present in the action of the history of Don Quixote, the presence of the narrator is evident in the overall story itself, and it would not be a complete story without the narrator. The reliance on the narrator for the story to occur makes the narrator homodiegetic.

(different version)

De Cervantes, Miguel. Don Quixote of La Mancha. Trans. Walter Starkie. New York: Signet Classic, 1964. Print.

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Spot Always Check Your Blind – Blog #6

Posted by RachelE on June 20, 2011

At that moment, my heart was pounding and I was sweating profusely. To this day, I still shudder when I remember the time I almost died. The day started out like any other – as usual, I was forcing myself to get out of bed for school. I must admit, I wasn’t getting up at the crack of dawn; yet, being summertime, 11 o’clock a.m. felt like dawn. I lethargically got dressed, took one look in the mirror and realized it was as good as it was ever going to get, and hurried downstairs before I gave in and climbed back into bed. I skipped breakfast, which was the normal routine in the mornings, grabbed a juicebox and left the house. I live about 10 minutes from the Long Island Expressway and the drive to the highway was uneventful this specific morning. I began to hope that the rest of my day would go as smoothly as my drive to the highway. Things started to get even better when I entered the highway and saw the traffic was moving well and it wouldn’t take me long to get to school. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned on my left turn signal, changing lanes until I was driving in the fastest lane, closest to the divider on the highway. I was really enjoying this drive and I even started humming along to the songs I didn’t like on the radio. While changing stations on the radio looking for one I could stand, I noticed a car gaining speed in the lane to my right. The car didn’t seem threatening so I didn’t pay closer attention to it as it caught up to me. Apparently, the car was trying to get into my lane but couldn’t because of me. The car sped up until it was ahead of me, but it was still in the second lane. Looking back, I assume I ended up in the car’s blind spot because without warning, the car swerved into my lane. I honked multiple times but it was too late. The only way to avoid crashing was to turn away from the car and into the highway divider. I turned my steering wheel to the left and waited for my car to hit the divider. And yet, at the last second, the car next to mine realized what was happening and turned back into its lane. I sharply turned my steering wheel the other way and narrowly missed the divider. And that, my friends, is the story of how I almost died.

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