Thursday, 31 July 2008

Wrapped up in books, again.

Just to complete late-night halbwissen, and fill out all the pot-holes in my education - here are 2 demonic figures from Romantic poetry that I sort of jumbled up yesterday.

Demogorgon from the Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.
And Arimanes from Byron's Manfred.

I need to start reading my dear second generation Romantics again. How my heart beats faster when I think on their themes. Ah!

I have finished The French Lieutenant's Woman. Today on the train. I must say, I find the ending masterful. Normally I have a problem with the endings of fictional works. I blame this on my slightly schizoid personality, or, well, this very pronounced inner schism of mine, the separation of mind and heart, if you will, rational thinking and emotional yearning. Somehow this dischord shows itself especially in my dilemma with endings. While my emotional, soppy side really wants Disney or Austen happy endings, my cynical, rational, critical side always has to sneer at them.
If I say John Fowles created a masterful ending, I mean that he somehow managed to overcome this dilemma. In the second version of the ending, he lets the rationalist "win" over the sentimentalist, simply by having the last word. The second ending reveals the flat-ness of the first. Even though the first ending "pushes buttons", caters to the romantic desires that everybody has, no doubt, having read the second one, you cannot really go back to believing in the first.
And the really good thing is, the second ending isn't just a negative inversion of the first one. If the first ending is white, then the second isn't black. It's maybe grey. More likely, though, it is really colourful. And in that, it is a celebration of life's diversity - to take up the Darwin-metaphor -, with all its ups and downs, comings and goings. It is a romanticised vision of a fallen world, a hymn to the imperfect, the secular, the ever-changing, maybe to humanity: sung by the people who have realised that heaven is a place where nothing ever happens, at it's really much better to live your life on Earth.
This is of course my own view, that I read into this ending. But what I mean is, that this book somehow managed to end without forcing either the cynic or the romantic in me to compromise. It satisfied both. And that is an excellent achievement.

2 comments:

Dot said...

To be honest I thought the whole story got weaker the longer it lasted. I thought Fowles was suddenly stuck in it, not as distanced and ironic as in the beginning. Sure, the two endings were brilliant, but I thought the second one was a rather feeble attempt - going to America?? Hmm.
Why is this in English??

Dani Chamois said...

Hm, du hast schon teilweise Recht. Wir müssen darüber richtig reden!