Cross Currents

In 3 weeks some major elements are going to change and I should be able to contribute more to this blog and in an ordered fashion. In the meantime, I just had to share a page I happened on, looking for something to read while I ate lunch. It’s from R.G. Poole’s Viking Poems On War and Peace: A Study in Skaldic Narrative.
In the preface, Poole describes how the canons of narrativity were developed in the classic 19th c. novel, culminating in Henry James. Not being a big reader of literature in the past, I was not so aware of the role of the individual pov in narrative and structure, a consistent psychological pov and very individualistic. Compared to earlier and non-Western narrative style, this is distinct.
The fragmentation of narrative found in modern writing is not the same as the apparent fragmentation of non-Western, non-individualistic, non-psychological writing; that fragmentation derives simply from the lack of a single narrative pov. In fact, so encompassed by the canon have critics been that they attributed the apparent fragmentation of Medieval and non-Western writings to be a result of some sort of forgery or other inauthenticity.
This makes me wonder how I will criticize and interpret the lyrics of Vodou songs I just purchased. The author, Hebblethwaite, gives some guidance on this, but the structure, the pov, the setting, the background of Vodou is so non-Western it should be a challenge. These comments by Poole also explain some of my problems in the past when I was irked by the “inconsistency” in narrative and pov in non-Western material I read.
Further, I was intrigued by the mention of Henry James as the culmination of this canon b/c Roger Kimball expressed great skepticism at calling James Baldwin a major write when he was clearly “derivative” of Henry James. Well, so is everyone, it appears. Kimball’s problem was Baldwin’s color.

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