Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tofu scramble

(The title really has nothing to do with this post. It's just the current ad in my gmail account, and it sort of describes, figuratively, what I'm about to do.)

Berkeley's giving me something called an English Department Fellowship, although I really have no idea what that is or what it entails. (Performing public cartwheels on a quarterly basis? Spending Halloween night in a haunted mansion?) More importantly, they're paying for a visit in March. My general policy is to jump at any opportunity to go to San Francisco, and it's worked well for me so far.

This week will--if last year's notification times are any indication--yield results from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton. An acceptance and funding offer in hand makes me (slightly) less jittery than I was a scant few weeks ago, but still, applying to graduate school isn't for the easily excited or those prone to palpitations. The fact that I'm suffering with my colleagues somehow makes things a little easier to bear. I was on who_got_in yesterday posting a story about the recent hack of Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and got a friendly rebuke not to title my post, simply, "Harvard." Point well taken. This is usually how people start posts about acceptances, and apparently, I nearly gave someone a myocardial infarction.

I finished "The Moonstone" the other day, and remembered [spoilers ahead] that Sergeant Cuff does return for a curtain call near the end of the book, to unmask Godfrey Ablewhite's disguise. He even provides one of the narratives, and, interestingly enough, it's the narrative that ties the story together from the moment of the diamond's theft to the moment of Ablewhite's death. Still, his role in the actual detection is marginal, and I think this well describes his role as one of the dozen narrators, too. In some ways, it's one of the least interesting parts of the book, simply because it is traditional narrative: it's the chapter that hits you over the head with what a careful reader would have already pieced together from the preceding narratives. So I really find myself in disagreement with T.S. Eliot on this one: "The Moonstone" isn't the longest and best of the English detective novels simply because it's not a detective novel in the traditional sense of the word, where the reader passively watches detection unfold. The reader is the actual detective, privy to all sorts of facts that no single person knows at the time that the action of the book is unfolding. It's a neat and rather modern trick, of which more later. (/spoilers)

I've signed on to Twitter for the pleasure of condensing 700+ page Russian novels to 140 characters. "Brothers Karamazov. Papa to Ivan: Do you believe in God? Ivan: No. To Alyosha: Do you? Alyosha: Yes. The End." Look me up. I'm shannonissima.

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Posted by Shannon Chamberlain @ 9:01 AM