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Annie Dillard (1945- ) Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (1974) Holy the Firm (77) (moth essay.) Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (83) An American Childhood (87) The Writing.

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Presentation on theme: "Annie Dillard (1945- ) Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (1974) Holy the Firm (77) (moth essay.) Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (83) An American Childhood (87) The Writing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Annie Dillard (1945- ) Pilgrim At Tinker Creek (1974) Holy the Firm (77) (moth essay.) Tickets for a Prayer Wheel (83) An American Childhood (87) The Writing Life (90)

2 Clemson.edu (good web site w/ Dillard links) (actually has parenthetical citations!) Parents affluent, strong, energetic, Presbyterian, sent her to fundamentalist church camp.Parents affluent, strong, energetic, Presbyterian, sent her to fundamentalist church camp. HS: hated everyone got into lots of trouble, butHS: hated everyone got into lots of trouble, but started reading poetry & essaysnotably Emerson.started reading poetry & essaysnotably Emerson. Hollins College (VA)married her writing teacher, Richard DillardHollins College (VA)married her writing teacher, Richard Dillard MA 1968: thesis on WaldenMA 1968: thesis on Walden 1971 Nearly died from pneumoniadecided she needed to live a bit.1971 Nearly died from pneumoniadecided she needed to live a bit. Tinker Creekfour seasons.Tinker Creekfour seasons.

3 Tinker Creek …(in Va. Blue Ridge) Four seasons ?Four seasons ? Mostly outdoors, camping, hiking.Mostly outdoors, camping, hiking. Journals: 20-plus volumes.Journals: 20-plus volumes. Transcribed to note cards, then to Pilgrim At Tinker Creek [irony of the title?].Transcribed to note cards, then to Pilgrim At Tinker Creek [irony of the title?]. Took 8 months from cards to book. Towards the end, totally absorbed: 15 hrs a day writing, living on coffee and Coke. Lost 30 pounds, and all of her plants died.Took 8 months from cards to book. Towards the end, totally absorbed: 15 hrs a day writing, living on coffee and Coke. Lost 30 pounds, and all of her plants died. It didnt include the moth piece. (2 yrs. Latersee How I Wrote the Moth Essayand Why)It didnt include the moth piece. (2 yrs. Latersee How I Wrote the Moth Essayand Why)

4 Pilgrim brought great reviews, fame. Distrusted it. (Suddenly poems were accepted that were rejected earlier) Puget Sound as sort of hermetic retreat. Connecticut to teach. Currently adjunct professor at Wesleyan U. in Conn. Several divorce/remarriages. (You can learn a lot when youre married to someone…. Marry brains! Marry brains!) 1984daughter.

5 Transfiguration: the big picture Where and when does Dillard see the moth? Where and when does she write the essay? [even without reading How I Wrote] Whats her point about the moth: what does it mean? Whats the purpose of the catand why used where it is?

6 Style: Syntax –master of parallelism, cumulative and periodic structure, poly- and asyndeton. –Cf. the fugue, Diction (Note any effects on pace.) Imagery Figurative language

7 Sound effects : –onomatopoeia, –alliteration, –assonance, –rhythm (accents), etc

8 Transforming TransfigurationWhat ifs What if a different animal or object were used to represent the writer? One day a dog walked by, was caught in a spider web, stung badly, and…

9 What if the moth analogy were used, but different words (diction) were chosen? The wax rose in the moths body … and widened into a flame, a sort of beer- yellow flame that staggered under her like a hangover, like a midlife crisis.

10 Other possible metaphors for the writer? Wood-chopping metaphorsee Writing Life excerpts.

11 Other nature writers Other nature writers Emerson Emerson Thoreau both influenced her Thoreau both influenced her Barry Lopez? Barry Lopez? Newshour roundtable clip? Newshour roundtable clip?

12 Rhetorical purpose: self-examination? Importance of setting? Close observation? Style? Epigrammatic? Tonestance. –E.g. identification with the subject. –anthropomorphism

13 from Walden (Brute Neighbors) : (p , Elements) (p , Elements) …The red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other;…and human soldiers never fought so resolutely...Perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus. …I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference…. …The red republicans on the one hand, and the black imperialists on the other;…and human soldiers never fought so resolutely...Perchance he was some Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or rescue his Patroclus. …I was myself excited somewhat even as if they had been men. The more you think of it, the less the difference….

14 I never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war; but I felt for the rest of that day as if I had had my feelings excited and harrowed by witnessing the struggle, the ferocity and carnage, of a human battle before my door….

15 American Literature (McGraw-Hill, p.205) The mice which haunted my house were not the common ones…but a wild and native kind not found in the village. I sent one to a distinguished naturalist, and it interested him much. …One of these…soon became quite familiar, and would run over my shoes and up my clothes….

16 At length, as I leaned with my elbow on the bench one day, it ran up my clothes, and along my sleeve, and round the paper which held my dinner, while I kept the latter close, and doged and played at bo-peep with it; and when at least I held still a piece of cheese between my thumb and finger it came and nibbled it, sitting in my hand, and afterward cleaned its face and paws, like a fly, and walked away.

17 Other Dillard quotes… from The Writing Life Once, in order to finish a book I was writing and yet not live in the same room with it, I begged a cabin to use as a study. I finished the book there, wrote some other things, and learned to split wood.Once, in order to finish a book I was writing and yet not live in the same room with it, I begged a cabin to use as a study. I finished the book there, wrote some other things, and learned to split wood. –[tell the part about learning to split wood, the dream, and the chopping block]

18 I came here to study hard things - rock mountain and salt sea - and to temper my spirit on their edges. "Teach me thy ways, O Lord" is, like all prayers, a rash one, and one I cannot but recommend.I came here to study hard things - rock mountain and salt sea - and to temper my spirit on their edges. "Teach me thy ways, O Lord" is, like all prayers, a rash one, and one I cannot but recommend.

19 Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark. Every live thing is a survivor on a kind of extended emergency bivouac.Every live thing is a survivor on a kind of extended emergency bivouac.

20 Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. Write about winter in the summer. Write about winter in the summer. The writer knows his fieldwhat has been done, what could be done, the limitsthe way a tennis player knows the court. And like that expert, he, too, plays the edges. The writer knows his fieldwhat has been done, what could be done, the limitsthe way a tennis player knows the court. And like that expert, he, too, plays the edges.

21 All day long I feel created. I can see the blown dust on the skin on the back of my hand, the tiny trapezoids of chipped clay, moistened and breathed alive. All day long I feel created. I can see the blown dust on the skin on the back of my hand, the tiny trapezoids of chipped clay, moistened and breathed alive. Spend the afternoon. You cant take it with you.

22 Who will teach me to write? A reader wanted to know. The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity, which you cover slowly, affirming times scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch, but touching it nevertheless,… Who will teach me to write? A reader wanted to know. The page, the page, that eternal blankness, the blankness of eternity, which you cover slowly, affirming times scrawl as a right and your daring as necessity; the page, which you cover woodenly, ruining it, but asserting your freedom and power to act, acknowledging that you ruin everything you touch, but touching it nevertheless,… Mother of all periodic sentences…?

23 …because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your lifes strength: that page will teach you to write. …because acting is better than being here in mere opacity; the page, which you cover slowly with the crabbed thread of your gut; the page in the purity of its possibilities; the page of your death, against which you pit such flawed excellences as you can muster with all your lifes strength: that page will teach you to write.

24 There is another way of saying this. Aim for the chopping block. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block. There is another way of saying this. Aim for the chopping block. Aim past the wood, aim through the wood; aim for the chopping block.

25 Gratuitous photo of Canaan Valley WV


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