Sophie's Choice (was Book Meme)

Kyra Jucovy klj at sccs.swarthmore.edu
Tue Jan 11 08:01:22 EST 2005


On Tue, 11 Jan 2005, Ika wrote:

> Gak, indeed. Is Roth another 60s American writer, btw? Because Sophie's

60s and later, yes.

> As for Otter's point: it's a long time since I read Shakespeare's Lear (I
> was besotted with Edward Bond's Lear for a while, hence the qualification
> there <g>), but I expect the historical/class difference (me not being a
> princess, basically) meant I took the misogyny therein less personally.
> It's also a different *type* of misogyny, so I should probably (as usual)
> have been more precise in my phrasing: what I disliked about Styron was in
> particular the assumption that women and girls have a duty to be sexually
> available to any man with whom they interact, and if they fail in that
> duty they are morally culpable.

Yes - I've been wondering since you brought it up why I wasn't as bothered
by the misogynistic aspects as you, and I think I've decided that I've
always read the book as portraying the narrator as looking back
on a time when he was extremely naive and limited, so that I didn't feel
forced by the narrative to buy into his preoccupations and evaluations.
That being said, the _obsession_ with sex still bothers me - the book is,
in theory at least, supposed to be about big, weighty things like the
problem of evil, and yet we get this. . . the only word is "callow,"
really, we get this callow, extremely unsympathetic narrator who, even
after he's learned all sorts of impressive things about the Holocaust,
drug abuse, etc., is still equally interested in or perhaps even more
interested in getting laid.  I think the present-day narrator sees this as
foolish and looks back on it with tolerant amusement, but the tolerant
amusement leads him to really overweight the sex in the story, which
really dilutes the theme for me.  I just don't see the sex, or the
narrator's distasteful attitudes about it, as contributing - it could
perhaps be fit in well to the rest of the story, but while I think I see
the narrator as more self-aware than you do, I don't think I see him as
self-aware enough to make much of an interesting connection between the
sexual obsession and the problem of evil.

> Love, Ika
>
> --
> "The White Cobra will take great
> pleasure in the black velvet mole."
> - *Avon: A Terrible Aspect*.
							---Kyra

---
Prometheus: "Grief for awhile is blind and so was mine. / I wish no living
thing to suffer pain."
			---Percy Bysshe Shelley, _Prometheus Unbound_

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