Sobriquet 39.26

Well, I didn't get the snow day the kid in me had been hoping for all last night, but I haven't any complaints about today. I did manage to get some more transcription out of the way, though what had once been a relaxing aspect of the dissertation-writing process has become a bit tedious lately. It is necessary, though, and having experienced the benefits such pre-writing provides, I'm happy to suck it up a bit and finish without complaining. I mean, seriously, I remember how much of a relief transcription seemed after having read through dozens of critical essays...

I also read another chunk of "The Vietnam Project," and my impression of Eugen Dawn has, if anything, grown more negative. He's an unbalanced man, incapable of keeping himself out of his formal report--inserting his own warped re-interpretation of events into the text in a way that recalls Nabokov's Charles Kinbote. Furthermore, as the novella unfolds, Dawn reveals an intensely neurotic self-aggrandizing streak while simultaneously striving to paint himself as some sort of victim, singled out for his valiant efforts to speak his mind. Between his tendency to assert his intelligence--via explicit claims of intellectual superiority as well as subtly through a seemingly forced prose style ostentatiously foregrounding an exaggerated erudition--and his paranoid sense of persecution, Dawn continues to echo the Slocums and Underground Men (he even says "I am a sick man," clearly evoking the famous opening line with which Dostoevsky's bilious creation introduces himself) he channeled in the first section of the novella. The crazier he gets, though, the more compelling the read.

Interestingly, I have found that "The Vietnam Project" has some key similarities to The Master of Petersburg and may yield an interesting degree of intertextuality to my discussion of Coetzee's latter novel. So, I'm intrigued.

For tomorrow: More readin' 'n' more transcribin'.


minxy said…
The novella sounds rather interesting, even with the increasingly negative protagonist. I may steal that from you sometime to read a page or three to see if I like it. :)

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