Time for a dose of my favorite mixture, those two fine ingredients: literature and murder.
One of my favorite books of all time is Albert Camus's L'Etranger. It's one of the few books I read in French, understood pretty well, and that stuck with me. A very powerful novel with some clever use of language. Maybe clever use of language that I actually managed to understand, I'm no scholar, for sure.
In fact, literary criticism doesn't sit well with me. The classes I took in high school and college irritated the hell out of me, frankly. "The bald guy is Jesus." "The pebble is the sun." "When he says, 'Bucket,' why does that make you want to cry?"
It doesn't, it makes me want to weep. With the pretentiousness of it all.
And yet I've always believed words to be powerful in that they can stimulate emotions and actions and beliefs. Which means that analysis must be valid, right?
Finally I saw some. This morning. An entire article devoted to the analysis of one short sentence, the first sentence of L'Etranger. It's a sentence that tells of a death (not murder, sorry) and I hadn't realized the great importance of how that sentence was/should be translated.
First, the sentence:
“Aujourd’hui, maman est morte.”
Second, the analysis: the order and punctuation of the sentence, and its identification of the main character's mother, really matter when it comes to understanding the rest of the book.
And just that strikes me as cool: that the way you read the very first sentence can affect the entire rest of the book, in the way you relate to and view the main character. Very cool indeed.
Seriously, if you have any interest in language and literature (and the book's about murder, so I'm allowed to have it on my blog!) check out this article. It's easy to read, and not even slightly wanky (my technical term for pretentious literary criticism/analysis).