Shahid Beheshti University |
A Narrative Reading of ???All Women are Very Similar??? By Sepideh Siyavashi Based on Gerard Genette??™s Theory |
Ramineh Rezazadeh |
13 July 2013 |
Literary Criticism 1
Sepideh Siavashi , (born in 1986 in Iran) writes short stories and poems in Farsi. ???Farsi Bekhand??? ???Laugh in Persian??? is her first short story collection published in 2011 in Iran.
This collection of nine short stories in 90 pages won “Golshiri Literary Award”. Siyavashi was graduated in MA in Linguistics from Allameh Tabatabai University.? Her fiction, besides the prize of Golshiri was amongst the winners of ??? Sadegh Hedayat Literary Award??? .
These nine short stories that generally are the story of modern realism and social discourses.?
Loneliness, betrayal, despair, longing and emotional frustration, feelings of worthlessness, lack of understanding of different cultures, are the main themes of the stories in this collection.?
Although the collection of stories in “Persian Laugh” is spread around a unique theme, but there are a couple of stories in the middle of the book which don not relate to whole series.
In the collection of stories the reader tries to establish or maintain a relationship, finds himself confronted with so many questions.? Where exactly does the relationship begin its transformation? Where the other people around us do are not exactly the same as they were before? The author does not seem answering the aforementioned questions to convey the stories.? ? The answer to these questions is that there is a process for every kinds of events however, an event doesn??™t take place suddenly over a night.
Reviewing the critical reflections of this collection proved that ???Laugh in Persian” , “Reddish Dun” and “Snow” are much powerful amongst others which is including ???Lost???, ???Sisterhood??? ???Are you Well Darling???, ???Darkness???, ???From End to the Beginning???& ???All The Women are Very the Same???.
At first some critical comments and a brief summary of each story will discussed in order to get acquainted with the author??™s style of writing and atmosphere of the stories and later on the story called ???All the Women are Very the Same??? will investigated through Narratologistic Theory.
???Laugh in Persian” is a story of the language. The narrator (Ramin) is an Iranian immigrant college professor in Europe, who lives with his foreign roommate? named Jesse ( A Dutch Girl).? The Narrator more or less loves the idea of living with an European citizen but not permanently; The only constant thing in life of the narrator is his mother tongue (Persian).? When his Iranian friend (shima) asks him about living with jess forever, he replies: “I can not …? It??™s perfect Right now, I don??™t think to live with them permanently, only their language??¦.??? And shima says: ??? Everything isn??™t language!???? (Siyavashi 11).?
But the narrator do believe that everything is language.? He likes to live with someone who knows Persian, laughs in Persian, loves in Persian etc.
The narrator feels common culture and the sameness of identity with Shima and pioneered factor is their language (Persian) but in another side he loves his Dutch partner although he doesn??™t ink to marry a person without knowing her language correctly.
Another story in the book is the story of “Snow” and for me it??™s like spelling a couple full of personal differences and ideas with a white color.? ? The snowy weather covers all the things in the city and the couple looses their directions in the white snow.? Everything will hide under the white cover and fro now on there isn??™t any tension among them they are the same and have unity with their surroundings. http://changizi.blogfa.com/post-1302.aspx
But the story of the “Reddish Dun.” reminds me of those stories that stays long in memory.? The riot has broken and Samira the girl returns back to her city after years of being lost and destroyed, the only way to keep going is to live in today, not tomorrow, because she has destroyed her past, there is nothing she wants to live for its sake.? ? The story is narrated from two dimensions.? One from her point of view and another from her brother??™s.? ? “Samira”, to me, is a symbol of rebellion and disarrangement.? The woman who believes the family system had destroyed her life so she must escape from it. Whereas she is unaware that modern civilization is the result of discipline.?
“Lost,??? is a story narrated from the view of one of the twins??™ sisters, who has lost her sister. The setting of the story is too wide and every now and then the two sisters will be translated for the readers to understand the whole story.
In the story “From the end to the beginning ” made a lot of effort to prepare the ground for the project, and she narrated the story to the objects in the environment. The first time the narrator called (Nadi) comes, the readers find out the story is a love rival.? In the middle of the story she talks to the Oven says: “Did not think she was in love with Kourosh? You are wrong. “And again misleads the readers.
In the story of the “Are you well, darling” the events don??™t transfer a complete and clear motivation of the narrator (Sareh??™s Husband) that why he decides to annoy and torture Sareh the character which is only a dead body from the beginning . The lack of sufficient data makes it difficult to read the story.? Its the story of a man playing a game with Sareh (her wife) as somewhere he says “She supposed the game like a war.??? (Siyavashi 47)
The story of the “Dark” pictures a story in a different position.”Haniyeh” suspends a relationship of her husband with another woman, when she check his mobile phone??™s messages. The author dictates an unusual chain of events through which we supposed to affront different from of woman not “like other women” although in practice she has an usual reaction like her. http://nevaak.com/p=20833
The story of the “Sisterhood” is the narration of a relationship between the two sisters that is well expounded. Older sister “Setareh??? is out of the country and her relationship with “Reza” related to the birth of their child ???Saghi??? .? The story takes place in the past and is well written and the characters are well pictured.
The Structure of Narrative (Narratalogy)
By the mid 20th century there were a number of structural theories of human existence.
In the study of language, the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) suggested that meaning was to be found within the structure of a whole language rather than in the analysis of individual words.
In the 1960s, the structuralist movement, based in France, attempted to synthesize the ideas of Marx, Freud and Saussure. They disagreed with the existentialists claim that each man is what he makes himself. For the structuralist the individual is shaped by sociological, psychological and linguistic structures over which he/she has no control, but which could be uncovered by using their methods of investigation.
Gerard Genette, the most intrepid and persistent explorer in our time of the relations between criticism and poetics, is the legitimate inheritor of Sternes pioneer enterprise. Although Genette has long been an authoritative figure in narratological circles, the full compass of his work is
probably less well known to the anglophone audience than that of any other major French critic of his generation.
“Narratology” is a term first coined in 1969 by Genettes colleague and collaborator Tzvetan Todorov. “Mimologist” refers to Genettes “voyage to Cratylusland” in Mimologiques and “transtextualist” to his detailed analyses of textual transcendence in his trilogy Introduction a Varchitexte, Palimpsestes, and Seuils (the French title of the present work)( Lewin 20).
Structuralist analyses of narrative examine in minute detail the inner ???workings??? of literary texts in order to discover the fundamental structural units (such as units of narrative progression) or functions (such as character functions) that govern texts??™ narrative operations. A good deal of literary criticism that today goes under the name narratology belongs to this kind of structuralist approach.
Genette begins by differentiating among three levels of narrative that generally have been included under the umbrella of the term narrative: story, narrative and narration. It is interesting to note that tense, mood, and voice are all aspects of verbs. For in Genette??™s opinion, all fiction functions like an expanded verb: all narrative reduces to action. Although his definitions may seem ???cut and dried,??? he generates his categories, in large part, to be able to show when a literary text creates its effects by ???violating??? those categories.
Genette underscores the notion that systems of classification should be used to help us illuminate the complexity of literary works, not obscure that complexity through oversimplification (Tyson 224).
For example, when Gerard Genette sets out to study the complicated temporal relationships between recit and discours in his “Discours du Recit, he must assume that events of the recit occurred in some order and that each event occurred either once or more than once ( Genette, 1972).
Then he can describe the narrative presentation as a transformation of the true or original order of events. Of course, in a particular narrative it may be impossible to tell from the evidence presented whether event A preceded or followed event B, but since it is assumed that at the level of fabula there must have been a true order, this impossibility can be taken as a fact about point of view. Without the assumption that there is a true order of events prior to narrative presentation, one could not claim that the lack of order was the result of point of view. Genettes approaches are widely different; they coincide in articulating their analyses of fictional time at two levels: the time of the act of narrating and the time that is narrated. If, following Genette, we may call the relation between the time of narrating and the narrated time in the narrative itself a game with time, this game has as its stakes the temporal experience ( Zeiterlebnis) intended by the narrative. (Onega 55)
* What are the story, narrative and narration of the story
* How the three items mentioned above interact by the means of tense, mood and voice
* In what order the story is narrated
* What is the relationship between the length of time over which a given event occurs and the number of pages of narrative devoted to describing it
* What is the relationship between the ways in which events happen and the number of their repetition
* How is the distance created in the story (Whether one of the characters is the narrator and more detail is given or there is no distance because we are unaware of the narrator??™s presence).
* What is the perspective of the story
* What is the voice of the story (What is the narrator??™s attitude toward the story
In the story of “All Women are Very Similar,” Mahan is a child of divorced couple without no relationship with his mother over 15 the years, and has recently reached to his mother and had a meeting with her in a cafe.? In his mind he thinks about his girlfriend “Katie” who decided to marry him in near future and for his unusual childhood and all the sufferings which a child without mother can encounter, his experiences taught him that this girl is also “like all women” is not only heal his pain in their common life and she can??™t be the only person who can communicate well with him .? The fact is that the picture Mahan??™s father induced to his son about Katie originated from his sorrowful relations with his mother in Mahan??™s early years of life, so he can??™t make any differences in the idea??™s Mahan has about women.
The narrator (Mahan) in his dialogue with her mother remembers the cruel and brutal behavior of his mother in his childhood and the moment her mother left him and reviews his conversation with his father:
???- She stared to my eyes and said Mahan is yours, Do you understand my feelings on that moment
* I see. What do you feel exactly Daddy Mammy was a monster.
* Alas …only make jokes. Be serious!??? (Siyavashi 20)
The tense of the story is full of reviewing past events ( Analepsia ) and all these narrations will take place in a rapid movement that if the reader loose his/her attention from the stream line of the story without doubt she/he will get confused? Although the narrator has an appointment with her ??mother after a long time, I wandering how simple and beautiful dialogues will pass among them which beneath the surface of each sentence, many life lessons including independence, brevity &??¦. will hide.
The narrator continuous? comparison of the mother & Kathy covers the story from beginning to end, the narrator of his fathers inheritance much suffering, but it does not escape.
The presence of sex oppositions creates a kind of aesthetic sense in some part of the story, when Mahan begins comprising her mother??™s beauty with Kathy, other customers in the restaurant and using his imagination portraying her mother in her early ages.
???Her eyebrows were painted. Her brownie skin of her chin a little bit dropped but it??™s still flat. As it always shined. If you put light on Kathy??™s skin it??™s like a peach, full of blond fuzz. Daddy says man??™s wife shouldn??™t be beautiful. But Mummy is beautiful.???(Siyavashi 22)
Mahan was patronage all these years by his father, and inherited much sufferings g with his single father .? With a deeper reading of the book we find that Venus, the mother of the narrator, suffered from neglecting his child during these years.?
???Don??™t like you think that I was a nonsense person.???
Her voice is trembling. I don??™t know why I am shocking??? (Siyavashi 23)
The boys mother knows her duty.? I would compare him with Katie.? The mother prohibited him to smoke and asks his son to call a taxi for her but in opposition the son is in some deal surprised by her mother??™s behavior as a mature and experienced woman. http://nasringhorbani.mihanblog.com/post/128
? ? ? ? The way she speaks and acts is extraordinary since she assumes to pretend having an old relation with her son like many other normal and happy families in this regard she tells Mahan: ??? Will go to you aunt??™s house??? (Siyavashi 35).
Apparently Mahan??™s father from the moment of his separation from his former wife devoted his whole life to their last related chain who is Mahan, the result of this brief mentioned point is that his father has forgotten his recent unsuccessful marriage and found the real goal of the rest of his life in bringing up his son very proudly, for him Mahan??™s mother has finished. The reason at the last paragraph of the story he asks Mahan ???Is she wearing the ring Maybe she wears a ring right at the time she had an appointment with you. These women??¦??¦??? (Siyavashi 26)
In some part of the story there are footprints of very ontime allegories that make the reader feel deep perceptions of the described situation. The so called literary phrases will be discussed in the following quotations derived from the story:
???She picks up a cup with one of the wings.???( Siyavashi 19)
???The branches of the tree sticks around my wrists.???(siyavashi 23)
The story is a simple narration of the life between old relation and the new one among young generations. None of the present reactions towards a common situation is comparable to each other, every one of them hast its own process in confronting harsh & hesitating situation like Mahan & Kathy in comparison with Mahan??™s father & his mother. Siyavashi in this story goes beyond the surface of the unsolved tensions and old questions in destroyed relations of a human beings.
A son keeps far from his mother and this is resulted lacks of communication especially in predicting and undrestandingwomen behavior in different aspects of life such as social, economical &??¦.
Since these years his father was his sole sign of a family, he played both the role of mother & father meanwhile he transfers his idealistic beliefs originated from his sad experiences to his son about women.
The style of the text put you in so much trouble by shifting from present characters and the absent ones, so it should be read continues in order to save the stream of imaginations.
The fabula has a repetitive subject of every life, dialogue between two generation without conclusion, conflict among married couples, but the author will artistically changed such simple and exhausting topic to a story filled with hidden life of every character.
Lewin Jane E., Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation Gerard Genette (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1997)
Tyson Lois, Critical Theory Today: A User-Friendly Guide, 2nd Edition ( New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.,1999)
Siyavashi Sepideh, Laugh in Persian, Farsi Bekhand(Tehran: Ghatreh Publication,2011)
Onega Susana, and Garcia Landa Jose Angel, ed., Narratology: An Introduction (London: Longman Group Limited,1996)
Ahmadi Aryaman, ???Exploring Exquisite Anchor of a Routine Life ??? Etemad News paper (28 October 2011)
Ensafi Mustafa, ???Awry lines behind the simple face of Men???, 15 April 2011 http://www.louh.com/content/5951/default.aspx