Saturday, April 05, 2008

Voice by Proxy: Countdown #4

I teach my students to avoid the assumption that the author of a literary work is speaking through his or her characters. But sometimes the author's voice clearly comes through a fictional proxy or two:

From Countdown to Final Crisis #4. Words by Sean McKeever.


Marc Caputo said...

That's interesting, Tim. But I'm curious about something - when you say you teach them to "avoid the assumption", are you telling them that they can't take it for granted that the author is speaking through one or more characters and that they have to back it up with references to the text or that many authors don't speak through their characters?

I know that we can't always trust the "I" that pop/rock is sung in, but I would have thought that in fiction, that would be more prevalent.

Timothy Callahan said...

The characters are not the author. The speaker in the poem is not the poet. It's as simple as that.

Sometimes the characters or speaker or narrator says something the author believes is true, though. But you can't assume that, ever. You might find it out from other sources, though, where an author says in an interview that he believes X, Y, and Z which is also what one of his characters believes.

With Final Crisis #4, though, we can go right ahead and assume away.

Chad Nevett said...

The prof I'm currently assisting did something interesting to illustrate the difference between the speaker and the poet earlier this semester when we were doing William Blake. He used a hand puppet, said that it was the speaker and he was Blake. It was actually quite effective at getting the point across.

Scene -- said...

hahahaha, awesome