I finished the conclusion of my dissertation on Friday afternoon, which was a few days after I originally thought I would complete it. I sent it off to my supervisor and, though she made a few small suggestions for revision, it looks like I am essentially done with that section of the dissertation now, too. This means that, save for the sort of minor editing one does with any book-length manuscript, all I have left to do is write my introduction.
This, however, is a bit more daunting a task than it may sound. Because it has to be fairly lengthy and because it requires that I summarize my ideas, but especially because I know it will be the first thing any potential reader encounters, I am feeling a bit more anxiety about its writing than I had anticipated. I mean, when I wrote my M.A. thesis back in 2003, the introduction was probably the easiest part of the entire project and, really, it did not take me an especially long time to put together. This introduction, on the other hand, feels different, weightier, more demanding. And, indeed, it is. When speaking with my advisor over the weekend, I was more than a little surprised to learn how long the average introduction tends to be. My initial response was, perhaps not surprisingly, mild dismay. "Damn," I thought, "I guess I won't be finishing it by the last day of the semester!" And all my dreams of celebratory December vacations to warmer climes dissipated.
Of course, it's idiotic to feel anything but satisfaction at this point. I mean, I am remarkably close to the end of my dissertation, something that I could only imagine -- and imagine poorly -- two years ago. Still, it probably means that I will have to do a bit of re-reading over the next couple of weeks in preparation for that final bit of writing. I'll have to read over my dissertation, of course, but also Foe and In the Heart of the Country. I will have to reread some criticism, too. It feels like I have just finished the eleventh hour of a twelve-hour drive and, stifling yawns and straining to keep my eyes open, I see a construction zone ahead.
So, I guess I will have to shift gears this one last time, regroup, and begin the homestretch.
On a separate, though related note, I finally got around to watching the film adaptation of Disgrace. It's not a bad movie. The acting is pretty solid all the way through, the cinematography is beautiful, the plot largely true to the book. The problem with the adaptation is that the film essentially dismisses the reflective layer of Coetzee's novel. John Malkovich's David Lurie does all, or virtually all, the things Coetzee's Lurie does, but that's only the most superficial layer of the novel. David's internal life, the thoughts and feelings and reflections that animate and illuminate the book are, by necessity, largely absent from the film. There are, to be sure, moments where David's words or a particularly well-crafted scene gives a sense of the man's thoughts, but that crucial layer of the text is lost in translation.
For tomorrow: Read.