Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Attention WEMers...

What do you think of the question from The Well-Educated Mind that Mrs. Bauer suggests in the third inquiry, p. 81:  
Is this novel self-reflective? Is this even possible?  Can stories about people convey truth?  Can written words really communicate something meaningful about existence?
And later she asks, "Does it call attention to...the acts of reading and writing?"  
So is this question only focusing on the reading and writing that takes place within a story? Or is there something more?
I am curious how other WEMers are answering this question.


  1. Do you mean P&P or the other novels we have read?

    1. In general, how do we consider that question for any title? Does it only refer to reading or writing in the story? I had a completely different understanding of "self-reflective" until she brought up the reading and writing.

  2. I've been meaning to sit down and type a comment for this post for ages now. Sorry for the delay.

    It's something I'd never analyzed before in literature, that often writers use internal literature, or books, or reliance on learning from written word as pivot points in their arguments. It's definitely true in DQ. Gulliver has his written truth even though people won't believe him, Oliver finds refuge with Mr. Brownlow and all his books. All of Jane Eyre's experiences come from what she has read.

    But it is confusing the way SWB ties this question to "truth." We usually save our big discussions about truth for the final rhetoric question on p. 83.

    1. See, I thought if she was referring to writing and books in these novels, I have found them present in each one so far. It is as if the author makes a special place just to discuss the importance of written works, like a little pat on the back.

      But I think I understand: does the author make an argument that writing is a successful vehicle for telling stories about human nature OR does it make an argument against it? I don't know why any author would make that second argument.

  3. Frequently I scribble down some example of characters reading or writing, then I get side-tracked with the "truth" matter of the book. Then when I get to "Do you agree?", I have to flip back to my previous answer and draw a big arrow to this question.

    SWB says "The answer to (self-reflective) those questions is not an automatic yes." (p. 81), but like you, I think that an author would HAVE to think that "storytelling can make a meaningful statement about human existence".

    Fresh from reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, I think Stowe seems to attack the slavery issue from every angle. Perhaps she was afraid that her words wouldn't touch every reader and she wanted to appeal/move the largest number of people and that's why she exhausted the topic?

    Perhaps we'll get to an author that expresses fear or feelings that storytelling doesn't matter? Oh, that would be weird.