Many people assume that a story will make sense and that comprehension
of it will be easy, or at least possible! The books we’ve read in
this course challenge this assumption. How do they do this through their
narrative voices and how does this affect your understanding
of the ‘power of the word’? Stated otherwise, what are these books
and their narrative voices suggesting about the ‘power of the word’ as
a communicative, expressive, storytelling, etc. tool?
Your paper topic is on Hero of our Time, Notes from Underground, and
The Translation of Dr. Apelles.
Think of your paper as being about the ‘power of the word’ and these
three books as examples for proving whatever it is you want to argue
Some questions to consider:
1. What do you understand as ‘the power of the word’? What do you
think words are supposed to do?
**It might be helpful to think about the function of literature more
generally, as well as how language is functioning within each of the
specific books we’ve read (between characters, within characters’
heads, in epigraphs, etc.).
words… communicate– thoughts and/or feelings? give us an understanding of
ourselves, each other? distinguish ourselves? speech acts– make
things happen — we say things like ‘i do’ / ‘i promise’ / ‘i hereby
swear…’ in order to make commitments/truths public. give sense to
our lives? complicate our lives?
2. How does your understanding of ‘the power of the word’ relate to
reason? Does ‘the word’ work to give more logic, sense, and
understanding to our lives? What does it mean for the word to
‘succeed’ or ‘fail,’ especially in terms of reason?
3. What are the narrative voices in each of the books?
Who is narrating? How is she/he narrating? Are the narrators
rational? reliable? Do they have an agenda? Do they have any of
their own opinions on ‘the power of the word’?
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