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Author Topic: Unlikable narrators
Caliban3
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I'd disagree that the "I" in Wuthering Heights is neutral; I think Nelly is utterly dislikeable. She's such a complete shit-stirrer, always bloody telling tales on people and really judgemental.

The "I" in Rebecca was annoying too, I think. Completely neurotic and paranoid, and a total wet fish at the same time.

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Caliban3
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You can't help but like the narrator in The Catcher in the Rye though.
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Purves Grundy
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In Wuthering Heights I was thinking about the 'I' who narrates the introductory first chapter.
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Jimski
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quote:
The "I" in Rebecca was annoying too, I think. Completely neurotic and paranoid, and a total wet fish at the same time.
Oh she was, but this just made me feel sorry for her, while reading it anyway. Almost as though she was a victim of circumstance rather than of her own personality. Certainly I found myself rooting for her (and thus also her husband) through the book, before wondering afterwards "just what the fuck was I doing there?"

It's what I found fascinating about the book - despite the fact I knew how she ended up from the first chapter, and it didn't seem like much of an existence, I still found myself desperately hoping she'd make it through.

A very clever piece of writing, which deliberately hooks the reader (well it did me) and then makes you feel a bit odd about it afterwards.

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Caliban3
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quote:
In Wuthering Heights I was thinking about the 'I' who narrates the introductory first chapter.
Ah, yes him. Lockwood. Well I didn't much like him either, but Wuthering Heighs was full of annoying people, wasn't it. He was completely stuck-up - a right townie demanding attention from the wrong people. But you're right in that he's pretty neutral, all the same.

I know what you mean, Jimski, it's afterwards that you start to think she deserved all she got. There's an intersting part in "Rebecca's Tale" (which is otherwise crap), that rewrites the story from the perspective of Rebecca, who comes across as really cool and makes the narrator look like a right mentalist.

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Oolon Colluphid LLB
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I'm surprised no one's mentioned Huckleberry Finn in terms of likable first person narrators.
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Jimski
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Yeah, when viewed objectively (rather than through the narrator's eyes) one can see Rebecca was far more sparky and full of character than the second wife. Able to think for herself, make her own decisions, and charm virtually everyone with whom she came into contact. Arguably a potential feminist icon, whereas the narrator is very much the opposite.

[ 09.09.2005, 20:41: Message edited by: Jimski ]

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Caliban3
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I nearly did my dissertation on how Rebecca was the narrator's alter-ego, and it was all autobiographical, and all to do with Du Maurier's lesbianism (or bisexuality), and how the "straight wife" is paranoid and unhappy about the "bi wife", who was exciting and sparky and the only one with an identity.
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Jimski
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Hey - I like that theory! It never occurred to me, but I can definitely see your point. Certainly I'd have wanted to read that dissertation had you written it.

[ 09.09.2005, 21:35: Message edited by: Jimski ]

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Caliban3
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I shall expand on my theory then and impress you at a later date.
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and I am the life
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the I in high fidelity really gets on my fucking nerves. Was the nature of this character changed much for the movie?
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Not me
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I'm not sure, because I can never read more than two pages of that particular I without wanting to throttle him. I liked the film, though, which suggests either that the film's I is very different or that it's the drippy English specifics of the book's I that wind me up so much.
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Mat Pereira
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I've never finished 'Rebecca'. I can't get past the opening chapter as yet. It's the first sentance that does it. Every time I read it, I think 'oooh, that's a famous first sentance' and it puts me off. I know I will like it once I read it. I watched the Hitchcock film as a kid and liked it. I've read loads of Du Maurier's short stories and really liked them. I've read 'House on the Strand' by her too, and really liked that. So I should read it, I think.

I have read 'High Fidelity' though and I hated it too. It's a very tired, resigned voice isn't it? someone unexcited by anything, who sees the prospect of being excited by anything completely alien or beneath him, he's Observer magazine culture to a tee, isn't he? I didn't like him at all, a completely ghastly bastard.

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and I am the life
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yeah he's a total cunt, and pretty much spends the rest of the book convincing us of this.
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Don Malhumorado
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Are any of Margaret Atwood's books 'narrated'? Cat's Eyes? If that is, I loathed her more than Nigel Winterburn and Martin Keown combined. And if not, I still loath her that much.
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