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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:02   #11
John Self
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Quote:
Originally Posted by m.
After that 52nd page I started a whole different book and read in one day. And it helped, after this break I enjoyed the book more, in fact, I found it hard to put it down.
I think that makes sense. The chapterless approach (which McGrath had with his previous two books The Grotesque and Spider, but hasn't used since) encourages binge-reading.

It also helps the stewy brew of confusing timelines, which I found quite tricky to keep a hold of the first time I read the book. We have three simultaneous timelines going on:
  1. When Haggard trains as a surgeon, meets Fanny and begins his affair with her
  2. When he retires to Elgin to mend his broken spirit and enters general practice
  3. When he meets James and tells his story, where finally (as one review on my copy puts is) "event and delusion combine"
I have enough confidence in McGrath, however, to be sure that this slightly difficult structure is deliberate.

(His next novel, Asylum, had a cool, controlled narrative, and a rigid structure to match: 12 chapters describing events over a 12 month period.)
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:08   #12
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Kimberley or Beth will need to explain Barthes to me...
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:17   #13
Kimberley
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

You weren't paying attention to one of the literary analysis threads, JS. This was how I distilled an... err... distillation of certain of Barhtes' theories in the Terry Eagleton thread...

Quote:
Barthes
Quote:
argues that a text can be read more in terms of ‘erotics’ than ‘hermeneutics’ because, there being no way absolutely to determine what words mean, instead the reader can ‘luxuriate... in the tantalising... glimpses of meanings which surface only to submerge again... In some final recuperation of selfhood which the act of reading has thrown into question, the modernist text explodes (the reader’s) secure cultural identity in a jouissance which... is both readerly bliss and sexual orgasm’.
(see what we can get away with when it turns out the admin aren't really watching? )
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:19   #14
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

I was watching.

I just didn't understand it!
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:24   #15
John Self
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Thanks Kimberley (and this admin is watching anyway!) but this goes somewhere over my head. Hermeneutics? Erotics? I know what erotic is, but erotics?

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there being no way absolutely to determine what words mean, instead the reader can ‘luxuriate... in the tantalising... glimpses of meanings which surface only to submerge again...
I understand this bit.

Quote:
In some final recuperation of selfhood which the act of reading has thrown into question
Lost me again. Recuperation of selfhood? I'm not being obtuse, I just don't really know what it means...

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the modernist text explodes (the reader’s) secure cultural identity in a jouissance which... is both readerly bliss and sexual orgasm
Well I'm familiar with the notion - and experience - of literature as a pure sensual pleasure (as Amis had it on Lolita), but exploding my secure cultural identity I'm not so sure I know about. And jouissance... Babelfish please? Is Dr Haggard's Disease a 'modernist text'?
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:33   #16
Kimberley
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

But I explained hermeneutics! There's a long article about it that probably does better (only I couldn't be bothered reading it) on Wikipedia

JS, it is badly written. It's theory. Being badly written is virtually a requirement. It's not as badly written as most.

To me, he's saying that readers should be able not merely to experience pleasure, but utterly to lose themselves in the pleasure of reading.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:44   #17
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

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Recuperation of selfhood?
Kimberley knows best and has the words, but I would suggest that this might be the experience of total immersion in the text such that the self is quite surely questioned to the extent that self is lost. Then, the recuperative process has to come in at some point and a dissonance is created. The reader goes a little mad.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:49   #18
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

Oh, I love this book. page 127 and the narrator says, I said painting should never be an act of imitation but rather a refusal to imitate, because art, after all, must finally aspire to passion

Even while reading, you're wondering what is real. Can this line really be coming so few pages after those Keats lines from the Grecian Urn, which goes on to say, Beauty is truth, truth beauty - that is all/ Ye know on earth and all ye need to know. (?)

(As another interpretative - not to say hermeneutic -- twist, I read once that Keats' Grecian Urn was actually a piece of Wedgewood.)
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 16:55   #19
John Self
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

I'm loving it too, of course. Where I am at present (p96) we have had three references within a handful of pages to the fact that Haggard cries when he has sex with Fanny. Is it wrong of me to find this quite funny? And is there another interpretation of it other than his expansion of the 'little death' into a foreseeing of the time (which throughout he seems to know will come) when there will be no more sex, or love, between them?

And as for his describing his penis - "she ... adored its engorgement, thick-veined and large-headed - not unlike me!" - to his lover's son, well... blee, as we used to say in school.
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Old 31st Jul 2007, 17:02   #20
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Default Re: Book 34: DR HAGGARD'S DISEASE by Patrick McGrath

JS I don't get the impression that he is describing the explicit nature of the affair to James. Text not at hand, but I think that's at a point where he's addressing himself/reader? Ooh frustrating to not have the book but there is a specific reference to the knowledge of the doomed affair so early on that Edward's tears weren't surprising. Are tears so uncommon in sex?
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