Presentation on theme: "Introduction: In the Skin of a Lion. How will we approach the novel? Examining character and theme Doing a close reading of the text (looking for meaning)"— Presentation transcript:
How will we approach the novel? Examining character and theme Doing a close reading of the text (looking for meaning) Analyzing the novel from a critical point of few (marxist, feminist, postmodern, etc.)
CONTEXT Michael Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka in1943, but now lives in Toronto Ondaatje highlights the significance of the local narrative and the need for the voices of the marginalised to be heard. Ondaatje's use of actual historical events, places and people gives credence to these voices and their stories, inviting empathy and understanding. When you begin reading the novel it is worthwhile briefly investigating some of the factual aspects of the novel so that you can appreciate the context and the times. Use the internet to find some information on some or all of the following: Migrant workers in Canada – Finns, Macedonians, Bulgarians, etc. Michelangelo Caravaggio – Italian painter (1569 – 1609) who painted the poor, the disenfranchised and symbolically used light and dark (chiaroscuro). Ambrose Small – a millionaire who went missing in 1919. Bloor Street Viaduct and the Queen Street Waterworks. Rowland Harris – Commissioner of Public Works.
Setting 1913-1940 Ondaatje is able to capture the essence of a setting with a minimalist's touch; such as the opening chapter where Patrick recalls, for Hanna, his boyhood experiences is evocatively conveyed through imagery, contrast: "There he stands at the bedroom window and watches: he can see two or three lanterns between the soft maple and walnut tree. He hears their boots on the gravel. Thirty loggers, wrapped up dark, carrying axes and small packages of food which hang from their belts."(P. 7) The recurring symbol of moths being drawn to the light and the symbolic use of light and dark are introduced: "moths pinioned against the screens, clinging to the brightness."(P. 9)
Toronto: Bloor Street Viaduct, where Temelkoff, a daredevil, flinging himself underneath, on ropes, with pullies and straps. the Harris filtration plant by Lake Ontario, provides Torontonians with clean water.
In the Skin of a Lion: Characters "This is the story a young girl in a car during the early hours of the morning [...] She listens to the man as he picks up and brings together various corners of the story..." (4). Characters: besides Patrick and Hazen Lewis, –The missing millionaire, Ambrose Small & his former mistress Clara Dickens, whom Patrick falls in love with. –Alice Gull, an actress friend of Clara and works for Hungarian anarchists –Nicholas Temelkoff, a daredevil and baker –Caravaggio, a worker and then a thief –Hana, daughter of Alice.
Style Metafiction: Examining the relationship between fiction and reality. – Ondaatje identifies the story-within-a-story of Patrick's love affair with Alice as being separate from the main narrative: "He has come across a love story. This is only a love story. He does not wish for plot and all its consequences." (P.168) – "All his life Patrick Lewis has lived beside novels and their clear stories" (P.85) reminds us that Patrick is a character within a novel. Intertextuality: intertextual references to a variety of fiction and non- fiction texts: – Biblical references – Joseph Conrad's values and writings – Anne Wilkinson – Canadian poet – Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest
Style: Key examples of language features such as: – Poetical devices: Metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, personification, etc – Contrast (light and dark) – Word choice: Lyrical, emotive, informative, etc – Syntax: Fractured sentences – Shifting tense: Even in the space of two to three paragraphs – Dialogue: Lack of punctuation – symbolism: Knives and razors, blood, water, light and darkness, language, explosives, masks, metamorphosis, moths and insects e.g. the symbol of light is used throughout the book. Like the moths he is fascinated with, Patrick is drawn to light: "a moon lost in the thickness of clouds so it did not shine a path for him towards the trees." Patrick frequently associates himself with the moon – a distant symbol, inaccessible and reflecting the light of the stars. He wants to be loved but "There was a wall in him that no one reached. " It is significant that the women in the novel teach Patrick to disassociate himself with the moon and become more connected with nature and the earth. To Patrick both Clara and Alice represent light. – stream of consciousness: Multiple voices are heard. – Imagery: sensuous, poetical, etc – Surrealism (super real – a movement aimed at expressing the subconscious mind through irrational juxtaposition of images): Shifts in tenses and images and non-linear structure.
Background research What is the epic of Gilgamesh? Who was Ambrose Small? Who was Police Chief Draper? What happened to him? The nun the a fell What happened to Union organizers Rosvall and Voutilainen? Define the following terms: Postmodernism, Post- colonialism
The Epic of Gilgamesh The Gilgamesh epic celebrates the Sumerian king, Uru-inim-gina, as tragic hero. A masterpiece of Mespotamian literature, the epic recounts the pursuit of fame and immortality by the semi- legendary king of Uruk. Based on at least five earlier Sumerian legends, the epic was amalgamated into a unified whole early in the second millennium B.C. The plot of the epic goes something like this: The gods had created Enkidu -- a wild creature -- in the hope that he might challenge the arrogant and ruthless Gilgamesh and thus temper his excesses. After an initial confrontation, Gilgamesh and Enkidu become friends. On an expedition to the west, they confront an evil monster, Humbaba, in the Cedar Forest. Enkidu slays Humbaba and, in retribution, the gods take Enkidu's life. Enkidu's death so haunts Gilgamesh that he undertakes to seek eternal life, and so Gilgamesh the mighty hero is transformed into Gilgamesh the broken mortal. The pursuit of immortality leads Gilgamesh into further adventures. The most famous is his encounter with Utnapishtim, an ancient hero who had survived a tragic flood. His tale, recounted in the epic, bears many resemblances to the Biblical story of the Flood that Utnapishtim is often called the Babylonian Noah. Gilgamesh, following Utnapishtim's advice, finds a plant capable of rendering him immortal, only to have it stolen by a snake while he sleeps, exhausted from his quest. On this note, the epic ends. http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/gilgamesh.html
In the Skin of a Lion: Starting Questions What are the two chapters about? What details or characters or passages impress you the most?