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Sunday, 12 June 2016

****: on the narrator/ main character

On Matthew Selwyn's ****, or, The Anatomy of Melancholy


Swearwords, swearwords, swearwords. Rants. Ravings. Violence, tits, cocks, violence, tits, drugs, fucking, cocks, tits, power, freedom, dicks… A seemingly endless monologue made up of profanities, boasting about size and performance, and cynical, misanthropic comments on everything.
Isn’t it tiresome? 
Then I noticed something interesting in ****
There’s a discrepancy between what the narrator says he’s like and what he’s really like. In his own words, he’s confident, free, powerful, independent and marvellous—alienated from others but indifferent because he’s nonconformist and superior. The illusion is unbroken for pages, until we see him with Chloe when she’s late, and before the man at Job Centre Plus. Does he put on an act before the people around him, or does he lie to us? All of his boasting, with all the bombastic rhetoric about life and love and sex and power and everything, is but a mask, a disguise, a cover, a shelter for a lonely, broken young man—underneath all that confidence, arrogance and disdain is deep insecurity. 
I shall not just call him an unreliable narrator. I’m afraid he doesn’t lie to the readers as much as he lies to himself. 




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Going around, I came across this review: 
http://www.thecosydragon.com/2015/07/review-matthew-selwyn-or-the-anatomy-of-melancholy.html
“The protagonist came through as a man stroking his own ego and penis and that was certainly some solid characterisation – but in the wrong way. Bombarded by constant reminders of his penis’ superiority, it was difficult to get beyond those thoughts.” 
Disagree. As I wrote above, there’s something more to it. 

12 comments:

  1. i read the review... not much to say except maybe it's meant to be a satire of modern fiction? it's about the last book in the world i'd read. now, the original by Burton. that's one of the great exemplars of english lit and a fascinating experience for anyone who'd have the grit to tackle it. (not me, yet, except in bits and pieces...)

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    1. Which review? Mine or the one I linked to?
      I'm not sure if it's meant to be a satire. Still reading it. I'll write more later.

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    2. I don't read modern fiction so it's hard to say, but I don't really think so.

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  2. in stockholm, at the moderna museet: yoiyama cusaba: check it out...

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    1. Do you mean Yayoi Kusama?

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    2. yes; i saw her stuff and thought you might like it; the name fell out of my brain while communicating...

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    3. Hahaha.
      I like her. Think I first knew about her works when visiting the museum of modern art in Paris.
      I just went to her exhibition "In Infinity" in Oslo about last month.

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    4. i always wonder how they move all that stuff; it must cost her a fortune...

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  3. I read this passage thinking it was about Moby Dick, and was very surprised!

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    1. Oh why did you think it's about Moby Dick? @@

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