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Literary Marriages: A Study of Intertextuality in a Series of Short Stories by Joyce Carol Oates

Monica Loeb

Peter Lang

Literary Marriages

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Monica Loeb

Literary Marriages
A Study of Intertextuality in a Series of Short Stories by Joyce Carol Oates

PETER LANG Bern Berlin Bruxelles Frankfurt am Main New York Oxford Wien

Die Deutsche Bibliothek CIP-Einheitsaufnahme Loeb, Monica: Literary marriages : a study of intertextuality in a series of short stories by Joyce Carol Oates / Monica Loeb. Bern ; Berlin ; Bruxelles ; Frankfurt am Main ; New York ; Oxford ; Wien : Lang, 2002 ISBN 3-906768-09-0 British Library and Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data: A catalogue record for this book is available from The British Library, Great Britain, and from The Library of Congress, USA

Cover illustration: Trolovningen, 197475, Olja p duk @ Lena Cronqvist / BUS 2001 Cover design: Thomas Jaberg, Peter Lang AG

ISBN 3-906768-09-0 US-ISBN 0-8204-5642-X

Peter Lang AG, European Academic Publishers, Bern 2002 Jupiterstr. 15, Postfach, 3000 Bern 15, Switzerland,, All rights reserved. All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution. This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems. Printed in Germany

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................................................. 7 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................ 9 CHAPTER I The Sacred Marriage Prolegomena to Oatess Aesthetics .......................... 21 CHAPTER II Intertextuality ................................................................................................ 43 Theories of Intertextuality .............................................................................. 43 Oatsean Intertexuality .................................................................................... 51 Titular Intertexts ........................................................................................ 52 Biographical Intertexts ................................................................................. 54 Autobiographical Intertexts .......................................................................... 58 Generic Intertexts ........................................................................................ 61 CHAPTER III James Joyces The Dead Resurrected and Reimagined by Joyce Carol Oates ............................................................ 67 Death .......................................................................................................... 68 Woman and Writer ...................................................................................... 72 Love and Marriage ...................................................................................... 74 Epiphanal Endings ....................................................................................... 78 Autobiographical Elements ............................................................................ 80 Conclusion .................................................................................................... 82 CHAPTER IV Useless as Moths Wings Oatess Revision of Chekhovs The Lady with the Pet Dog .................................................... 87 The Topic of Love .......................................................................................... 88 Chekhovs Legacy .......................................................................................... 91 Oatess Transformation of The Lady with a Pet Dog .................................. 94 The Ending ................................................................................................... 98 The Title ...................................................................................................... 100

CHAPTER V Flauberts The Spiral ................................................................................. 105 La Spirale ..................................................................................................... 107 Autobiographical Elements in La Spirale ..................................................... 109 La Spirale/The Spiral A Comparison ......................................................... 111 Characters ................................................................................................. 112 Themes ...................................................................................................... 113 Treatment of Time ..................................................................................... 114 Juxtaposition ............................................................................................. 118 Title .......................................................................................................... 119 CHAPTER VI Thoreaus Walden Revisited by Joyce Carol Oates ......................................... 125 CHAPTER VII Humanity Peeled to its Essence Metamorphosis in Kafka and Oates ............................................................. 139 Background ................................................................................................. 140 Intertextual Vincula ..................................................................................... 144 Characters ................................................................................................. 144 Metamorphosis ........................................................................................... 150 Endings ..................................................................................................... 152 Conclusion .................................................................................................. 153 CHAPTER VIII Joyce Carol Oates and Henry James The Turn of the Screw Times Three .......................................................... 157 Bournemouth, England: Oatess The Turn of the Screw ............................ 159 Ghoulish Elements ....................................................................................... 161 Biographical Elements ................................................................................. 162 Eros ............................................................................................................. 163 Thanatos ...................................................................................................... 167 Ambiguity and Point of View ....................................................................... 168 The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly .......................................... 171 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................... 177 BIBLIOGRAPHY ....................................................................................... 181 INDEX ........................................................................................................ 194

First of all I would like to thank the Faculty of Arts at Ume University for financial support. A generous travel grant from the Helge A:son Johnson Foundation made archival research possible at Syracuse University, New York. Kathleen Manwaring, manuscripts supervisor, has been most helpful not only during my visit there but also later when meeting my requests for assistance via e-mail. Permission has been granted to quote from Joyce Carol Oates Papers, Department of Special Collections, Syracuse University Library. Ms Oates has also graciously given me permission to publish quotes from her work. Librarians at Ume University Library have also made every attempt to fill my requests for material often going beyond the call of duty. The Ellen Key Foundation furnished me with a grant to spend a few summer weeks in Ellen Keys house on the shores of Lake Vttern to work there with access to her private library. rebro University awarded me a visiting scholar grant during the month of November in 1999; this enabled me to finish the Flaubert chapter. I owe Madame Ann Cooper in France particular thanks for helping me find out who had sired the original Spiral. Dr Kerstin Munck has not only been my consultant in all French matters, but she has also given me great moral support throughout this project. Many friends, family members, and colleagues in different parts of the world have read, discussed and provided me with helpful comments for various sections of my study for which I am extremely grateful. In particular I wish to express my gratitude to Professor Reza Ordoubadian, Murfreesboro, Kentucky, for acting as my mentor and for encouraging me from the very start. My heartfelt thanks to Dr Ann Moskow who has read and commented on sections of the text giving me invaluable advice. Carin Blomberg and Brita Tljedal were instrumental in my choice of cover. Finally I want to thank my daughters Natasha and Ulrica who as small children spent a few years with Kurt (i e Vonnegut, the subject of my Ph D), and who in spite of that have been cheerfully supportive throughout my years with Joyce. Neither could I have done without Denis belief in me. Thank you for being there and seeing me through moments of dejection as well as joy.

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When Joyce Carol Oates appeared on the American literary scene in the 1960s more than one critic called her debut phenomenal. They were correct in their initial reactions and predictions; Joyce Carol Oates is today considered one of Americas most outstanding writers. [T]here is a prodigality of talent that places her among the most remarkable writers of her generation..., according to William Abrahams.1 Her first short story collection came in 1963 and a year later her first novel was published. Since then her pen has produced more than 70 volumes of stories, novels, literary criticism, poetry, and drama, frequently several volumes a year. Her ambition from the very beginning has been to draw a panoramic picture of her country and culture through the experiences of the individual. All her fiction in fact focuses upon character. In 1972 she admitted that she had a laughing Balzacian ambition to get the whole world into a book....2 As a consequence her characters show a wide range of variety from university professors, teenagers, boxers, country preachers, farmers, to psychopaths, laywers, housewives, nuns and child murderers. Her settings vary from the academy, the church, the courtroom to poor rural areas, suburbia and smalltown life. Oates herself grew up in the country on her grand-parents farm in Millersport, New York, in Erie County. Throughout her writing career she will nostalgically return to a fictionalized Eden County based on the landscape of her childhood. Her family was of Catholic Irish-German-Hungarian background. She was sent to a one-room school-house which her mother had attended before her. Joyce was the first one in her family to go on to college, with a fine scholarship for Syracuse University.

Born in 1938 as the eldest of three children she had a privileged relationship to her father who brought her along to many places and activities that girls usually did not go to. He was fascinated by flying and boxing, for instance, frequently bringing along his eldest daughter to both events. As a consequence, she has never known any restrictions as far as subject matter is concerned as is evident in her fiction. She knew early on that she wanted to write. Even as a very young child she produced stories by way of drawings with simulated handwriting at the bottom of the page. On a toy typewriter she began to write poetry around the age of eight. A sample has survived, a rhymed poem on numbers. What is interesting about this first literary effort to survive is the drawing underneath of an elephant proudly carrying a banner with the authors name Joyce, quite an expression of early self-consciousness.3 In high school she mostly wrote novels consciously training myself by writing novel after novel.4 In college, however, she began to explore the short story genre, although her professor Donald Dike recalls that about once a term shed drop a 400-page novel on my desk.5 Finally she was assigned a special room where her frequent drumming on the typewriter would not disturb the others in her sorority. Having fastidiously practiced in this manner, she had no trouble winning the prestigious Mademoiselle short story contest in 1959. This was the beginning of a brilliant career. By the time she found her name on the Honor Roll of Martha Foleys Best American Short Stories in 1961, she happily deserted her doctoral studies and became a full-time writer. But all along she has also pursued a teaching career wherever she and her husband, Raymond J Smith, have made their home, in Beaumont, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Windsor, Ontario in Canada or Princeton, New Jersey. This supportive marriage has most likely meant great security for Oates and has made possible her tremendous production through the years. In addition to writing and teaching Oates has also served as editor for numerous works on such disparate subjects as cats and boxing;6 she has started a press and a magazine with her husband;7 she has served as judge for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her reviews and articles of criticism appear nation-wide in prestigious publications. She has been featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine (December 11, 1972). At present she is the Roger S Berlind Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. Taken all together these activities and distinctions all testify to her extreme versatility within the field of literature.

Yet, throughout her writing career Joyce Carol Oates has been devoted to the short story, a genre that she excells in and that seems particularly suited to her. Although equally prolific in other fields, she always returns to the short story with delight and enthusiasm. It is significant that her very first publication was a collection of short stories. Since that first collection entitled By The North Gate was published in 1963, a total of twenty-five collections have appeared, the most recent one being The Collector of Hearts from 1999. Since most of her collections are arranged around a theme, some stories will inevitably be left over. They may be published individually in magazines, or end up among the great number of never published stories that are on file in the archives at Syracuse University where Oates has deposited all her papers.8 A modest estimate of the number of stories written by Oates to date would exceed six hundred.9 Greg Johnson, her biographer, who has also published a study on her short fiction, does not hesitate to call Oates the unrivaled American master of the short story.10 I like the freedom and promise of the form, Oates claims. Since the genre is characterized by its compressed form, a single idea and mood, usually no more than two or three characters, an abbreviated space of time, she experiences the form as open, still in the making.11 Invoking Hortense Calishers definition of the short story as a tempest in a very small teacup, she feels it is a witty way of describing its formal limitations and its thematic ambitions.12 Being a genre that is immense, elastic, unbounded, as Oates sees it, one of the oldest yet the most contemporary of literary forms, she in fact feels that it is an undefinable genre, which of course will permit her greater freedom to experiment. The perennial question of how to define the genre is instead turned into the question: Why is the short story to be defined?13 Experimentation as such has never interested her, but if a storys content or its protagonist so requires, then the story will naturally reflect this, as this study will demonstrate. According to Oates,[t]he sophistication of any protagonist usually dictates the degree of sophistication of the story.14 For Oates each story is consequently an attempt to do something different. The aspiration of each story is a gem-like purity, and to be so brief that it can be read and also absorbed at one sitting.15 Hence variety, but also abundance, are hallmarks of her short fiction. Her achievement in the short story has been publicly recognized and hence amply rewarded in the form of literary awards and prizes. She has been granted The Pen/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction,

the Rea Award for the Short Story, The American Association of University Women award, and a Guggenheim Foundation award. In 1994 she received the Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award in Horror Fiction. Best American Short Stories (where her stories have been been included 15 times) and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards (some 25 inclusions) have also bestowed numerous prizes upon Oates.16 In 1963 her story The Fine White Mist was included in both. In 1973, for instance, her story The Dead, included in this study, won the O. Henry first prize.

This is an intertextual study focusing on a series of short stories collected in Marriages and Infidelities, her fourth collection to appear in 1972. Reviewing it in The Saturday Review William Abrahams notes that Oates does not, as many other writers, write short stories as diversion or spin-off from the writing of novels, but as a central concern in her work. Although this marks an early period of her authorship, Abrahams feels that this collection strongly confirms her prominent position as a short story writer: In the landscape of the contemporary American short story Miss Oates stands out as a master, occupying a preeminent category of her own.17 Focus will be placed on a group of stories that Oates terms re-imaginings of famous stories, namely, The Dead, The Lady With the Pet Dog, The Metamorphosis, The Spiral, The Turn of the Screw, and Where I Lived and What I Lived For. Each story is intended by Oates to be autonomous, yet they are also testaments of [her] love and extreme devotion to these other writers, i e, James Joyce, Chekhov, Kafka, Flaubert, Henry James and Henry David Thoreau. As a woman writer she imagines a kind of spiritual marriage between [her] self and them, or lets say our daimons in the Yeatsian sense....18 As Oatess stories often deal with crises, or breakdowns, both on an individual and marital level, these stylistic marriages with the canonical, and patriarchal, tradition also show signs of what Elaine Showalter calls feminist narrative infidelities: betrayals of theme, transgressions of form, transforming visions of perspective that come from growing up female in America.19 Showalter here points to two phenomena that will be dealt with: the Americanization of these classics (all her stories are set in the US, except one);


and the engendering of the canon. Using the metaphor of marriage naturally allows Oates to explore her own relationship to literary tradition, the canon and art in general. For Oates this is a way of appropriating the past, of interpreting her beloved masters, at a fairly early point in her career, in order to find her own artistic voice and place within the tradition. That is why it is of interest to note how much and exactly what Oates chooses to retain of original themes, plots, names, settings, various details, symbols, and vocabulary, while constantly collating with her aesthetic ideas. In my comparative and close analyses of this series of stories all the above will be taken into account and illumined. At the time of writing this series of short stories, Oates confessed to fellow writer Gail Godwin: I am a shameless hero-worshipper....I very early in life latched onto spiritual, intellectual, visionary fathers, all kinds, and had there been many women of comparable achievement in history, I would surely, happily, have latched onto them.20 After the publication of her novel Wonderland (1971), she felt the need to show ways of transcending rather than merely exposing nightmarish situations. In an interview she explains how Marriages and Infidelities was intended to be the first step in that direction. Speaking of this short story collection she states:
I believe we achieve our salvation, or our ruin, by the marriages we contract.... Some are conventional marriages of men and women, others are marriages in another sense with a phase of art, with something that transcends the limitations of the ego. But because people are mortal, most of the marriages they go into are mistakes of some kind, misreadings of themselves. I thought by putting together a sequence of marriages, one might see how this one succeeds and that one fails. And how this one leads to some meaning beyond the self.21

The intention of this study is to identify these marriages and to examine whether, and to what extent, they are faithful marriages or infidelities. Considering genre Oatess infidelity is conspicuous. Although some of the masters originals are short stories, e g, Chekhovs, Joyces and Kafkas, the others are a novella, a chapter in a philosophical treatise or merely an embryonic outline for a never published novel. Yet, Oates chooses in her intertextual and transformational work to turn them all into short stories. In one case, The Turn of the Screw, she will even write a second re-imagining


some twenty years after the first one appeared. In another case, Where I Lived and What I Lived For, the second half of the lengthy title has also inspired Oates to write a novel, which also appeared some twenty years later. These will all be included and discussed in the course of this study. Why the short story and why these particular writers? All my life, Ive loved the short story form, the very essence of storytelling. Its relative brevity compared to the novel, its shapeliness, its sharp focus, its mimicry of the human voice.22 Oates is here emphasizing the storytelling aspects of the form, whose long history originated in fables, parables, tales, fairy tales from such diverse sources as the Bible, oral tradition or medieval romances. The modern short story begins to take shape in the nineteenth century, when Edgar Allen Poe theoretically discussed the genre and himself wrote stories in the then dominant mode of Gothicism. In the second half of that century, according to Oates, Gothicism was then virtually obliterated by the revolutionary sweep of Realism....23 What Oates calls the marvelous modern tradition of the story begins with Chekhov, Joyce, James (who are all part of this study) and Conrad. However, Poes remarks are inappropriate to our time, she feels since he and his contemporaries were mostly concerned with impersonal matters, such as the allegorical, the static, and the highly romantic.24 The modern short story was a strongly Euro-centered movement. That is why four of the masters in Oatess reimagined series are European. Chekhov represents the Russian tradition, Kafka Central Europe, Flaubert the French and Joyce the Anglo-Irish wing. Although Henry James was an American by birth, he settled for life in Great Britain and can be said to be drawn to that very dominant European tradition. Thoreau, finally, remains the only true American among her chosen masters. The fact that all her selected masters are male writers is a salient point. In her early volumes of criticism she also focuses almost entirely on male authors. This should come as no surprise, since she and most women of her and earlier generations were brought up on a principally male literary tradition. In the wake of the American womens liberation movement in the 60s a great number of women writers felt a need to re-appropriate the canon. As a consequence the 70s experienced a strong revisionary movement among women. Women critics as well as women writers engaged in re-visions of the tradition when both reading and writing. Many works portrayed women writers as protagonists in an attempt to metafictionally deal with the position


of a woman writer within a male tradition.25 Oatess re-vision of James Joyces The Dead is an excellent case in point. In an essay entitled (Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice, Oates expresses the wish to be considered as a writer first and foremost.26 When the new Harvard Guide to Contemporary Literature appeared, she strongly resented being categorized as a woman writer and lumped together with only women.27 However, quoting Robert Southeys famous remark Literature cannot be the business of a womans life, and it ought not to be, as well as other equally derogatory remarks, she realizes that reality is far from this ideal. Even a woman who imagines herself assimilated into the mainstream of literature, the literature of men, is surely mistaken, given the evidence of centuries....28 In particular she illustrates by many examples that there is a perplexing indifference among male critics to female writing. In conclusion she surmises that it is a matter of power, which does not reside with women - no more in the literary world than in the world of politics and finance - and power is never under the obligation to act justly.29 These matters of Oatess relationship to literary tradition and the revisionary movement will be further discussed in Chapter Two whose topic is intertextuality. On the one hand, general theories of the phenomenon will be surveyed, before more specific illustrations from Oatess oevre will be brought forward. Being extremely well read she is able to incorporate details such as titles, names, themes and plots from other works. As one critic puts it: her assimilation of literary tradition is more wide-ranging than that of any other American writer.30 In addition, her belief that all art is autobiographical also means that she draws heavily on material from not only her own life but also from people close to her. This chapter, while containing so many examples from her work, in a sense provides the reader with a survey of and an introduction to her literary production. However, before undertaking the transformative work of intertextuality, the very groundwork must be laid, viz, the artists relationship to art in general and her own role in particular. Chapter One thus addresses the topic of aesthetics. Joyce Carol Oates has made very clear pronoucements in this area. She believes, for instance, that art is an ongoing, magic, emotional and dynamic process that is natural for human beings and specific for our species. As an artist she does not exist in a vacuum, but she feels very much that she is part of a communal effort. Her social obligation is to bear witness of the world as she perceives it. The very first story of Marriages and


Infidelities entitled The Sacred Marriage, about a literary scholar who establishes a relationship with a deceased poets work through his young widow, provides Oates with an excellent opportunity of illustrating her views on literary aesthetics. In addition, this story also introduces the major themes for this series of short stories. Many of Oatess ideas on creativity, art and the role of the woman writer will also be evident in Chapter Three which analyzes her re-vision of James Joyces The Dead. Oates performs a gender reversal in her story in order to focus on the troubled life of an American woman writer and professor in the 60s. Autobiographical aspects also enter into the discussion of this story, since Oates herself has indicated the veracity of this. There is also a focus on the woman protagonist in Oatess version of The Lady With the Pet Dog in Chapter Four. Love is at the center of Chekhovs beloved story, as is true of so much of Oatess writing. This is indeed the story that most faithfully follows the original, even its open closure. Yet, there is transgression as far as the structure is concerned. Oates has chosen to break up the Chekhovian chronology into a more complex composition. A love triangle is also at the center of The Spiral in Chapter Five. It was, in fact, the embryonic character of the sketchy outline that set her imagination in motion. What could be more attractive than the mere skeleton of a draft leaving interpretation open, especially of the spiral movement indicated in the title?31 Structurally Oates in her story realizes in a concrete way Flauberts two levels of narrative, the fantastic and the realistic. Intertexts from Baudelaire and Truffaut are also incorporated. In The Spiral a man experiences a gradual breakdown, but in The Metamorphosis the transformation is sudden, as was the case in Kafkas original story. Oates has stated that her intention is to dispel the traditional view of Kafkaesque nightmare and horror, to rather emphasize other sides of Kafka as she sees him. In Chapter Six we can see how she describes the impact of the metamorphosis on a modern American family, in other words, what happens when a beloved family member deteriorates beyond recognition; the very precariousness of life is in focus; in particular she brings out the often ignored transcending, affirmative features of Kafkas ending. In Chapter Seven Oates also wishes to show Henry David Thoreau from another side to overthrow some of the myths surrounding this author. In


her frenzied description of a modern nameless jogger, Oates uses her character as a warning example of what might happen when Thoreaus basic existential ideas of simplicity and quality of life presented in Walden are not heeded. Oates has in her re-vision found a way of illustrating the duality of character that Thoreau speaks of. Finally, in Chapter Eight Oatess revision of Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw is shown to be the most experimental in form. Jamess ambiguity when it comes to point of view is physically realized on the page. Several other intertexts are alluded to, such as Death in Venice by Thomas Mann and Jamess own The Middle Years, which has provided Oates with the basic plot and themes for her re-vision. Even Jamess biography makes its way into Oatess story. Her second re-vision entitled The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly will also be included in the discussion. I love Henry James, I love Henry James so much. I want to get inside the man.32 This emotional outburst with its yearning to understand, to penetrate, the very core of an authorship is of course what lies behind Oatess project of literary marriages. Marriage is perhaps the institution that permits two human beings to become as close as possible over time. Since her objects of affection have already died, Oatess unions are one-sided and are thus raised to a symbolic level. The symbolism of MARRIAGES & INFIDELITIES, as Oates declares in a letter to me, is the marriage of the writer of male consciousness with the writer of female consciousness.33 It may seem audacious for a young woman writer to undertake a project of revision involving classical stories by male masters that appear perfect entities on their own. Oates here seems to follow the advice she gave presumptive short story writers as early as the 60s: Be daring, take on anything. Dont labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.34 Yet the pervading driving force is one of enjoyment as evident in a letter to a friend: Its a lot of fun to reimagine these famous old stories....Theres no question of anyone writing stories as good as those, so in a way one is free to try almost anything.35


1 William Abrahams, Stories of a Visionary, Review of Marriages and Infidelities in Saturday Review, 23 September 1972. Reprinted in Greg Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, A Study of the Short Fiction (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994) 164. Walter Clemons, Joyce Carol Oates: Love and Violence, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, ed. Lee Milazzo (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1989), 33. From Newsweek, 22 December 1972. Greg Johnson, Invisible Writer, A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates (New York: Penguin Books, 1998) 33-34. Robert Phillips, Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction LXXII, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 76. From The Paris Review, Fall 1978. Clemons 35. In addition to editing several editions of short fiction, she has edited a book on Emily Dickinson, the tales of H P Lovecraft, The Oxford Book of American Short Stories, an anthology on cats in literature (The Sophisticated Cat), Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers, a book on boxing (Reading the Fights with Dan Halpern), a bedside companion of ghost stories and one of gothic tales (Night Walks and American Gothic Tales). The Ontario Review and Ontario Review Press. Please see Greg Johnsons study on Oatess short fiction for examples of unpublished collections, such as Constantine or Heath (13). My estimate might be conservative, since Greg Johnsons figure from 1994 amounts to more than five hundred stories. Joyce Carol Oates, The Short Fiction (New York: Twayne) 3.

3 4 5 6

7 8 9

10 ibid. 11 Michael Schumacher, Joyce Carol Oates and the Hardest Part of Writing, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 145. From Writers Digest, April 1986. 12 Joyce Carol Oates, On the Art of the Short Story, a two-page typewritten manuscript in the Oates archives at Syracuse University, Box 30, page 1. 13 ibid. 14 Sanford Pinsker, Speaking about Short Fiction: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 97. From Studies in Short Fiction, Summer 1981. 15 Joyce Carol Oates, The Short Story, typewritten manuscript in the Oates archives, Syracuse University, Box 30, no date, page 3. 16 Other prizes include the McGovern Award, Bobst Award in Literature, Alan Swallow award for fiction at the University of Denver (for the collection The Assignation) Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation award, a National Book award (for them) and numerous nominations for PEN/Faulkner awards, Pulitzer Prizes and National Book awards.


17 Abrahams 164. Please see Greg Johnsons biography Invisible Writer for a summary of other, mostly positive, reviews of this collection, page 216. 18 Joe David Bellamy, The Dark Lady of American Letters, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 19. From Atlantic, Fall 1972. 19 Elaine Showalter, Sisters Choice. Tradition and Change in American Womens Writing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) 19. 20 Joyce Carol Oates, letter to Gail Godwin, June 12, 1972, quoted in Johnson 1998: 213. 21 Clemons 1972: 39. 22 Joyce Carol Oates, Where Ive Been, and Where Im Going. Essays, Reviews, and Prose (New York: Plume, 1999) 380. 23 Oates, On the Art of the Short Story, 2. 24 Pinsker 96. 25 Gayle Greene, Changing the Story. Feminist Fiction and the Tradition (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991). 26 Joyce Carol Oates, (Woman) Writer: Theory and Practice, in (Woman) Writer. Occasions and Opportunities (New York: Dutton, 1988) 22-32. 27 Joyce Carol Oates, Is there a Female Voice? Joyce Carol Oates Replies, in Gender and Literary Voice, ed. Janet Todd (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1980) 10-11. Reprinted in Johnson, 1994: 118-119. 28 Oates, (Woman) Writer, 30. 29 ibid., 32. 30 Greg Johnson 1994: 5. 31 Personal correspondence, letter to me, October 24, 1998. 32 John Alfred Avant, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 31. From Library Journal, 15 November, 1972. 33 Personal correspondence to me, October 24, 1998. 34 Joyce Carol Oates, Building Tension in the Short Story, Writer 79, June 1966, No 6: 44. 35 Letter to Elizabeth Graham, October 5, 1970, quoted in Johnson, 1998: 186.


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The Sacred Marriage Prolegomena to Oatess Aesthetics

In speaking of her forthcoming short story collection Marriages and Infidelities in the summer of 1971, Joyce Carol Oates informed the interviewer that it would include a few stories that are reimaginings of famous stories. 1 Her intention, she continued, was for them to be autonomous stories, while, at the same time, they were to be testaments of my love and extreme devotion to these other writers; I imagine a kind of spiritual marriage between myself and them, or lets say our daimons in the Yeatsian sense....2 These are the six reimagined stories by James Joyce, Anton Chekhov, Kafka, H D Thoreau, Gustave Flaubert and Henry James that constitute the very subject of the present study. Since Oatess reimagined stories also provide us with insight into her creative process and her relationship to the literary tradition, it is only fair to foreground this study by an investigation in this chapter of Oatess aesthetics. In the very creation of these stories she raises many central questions on the role, nature and function of art; the role of the artist; the relationship of the artist to society or of the writer to his own art and that of others; the woman writers position vis--vis the male canon; the autonomy of art; discipleship or marriage in art. Many of these issues are dealt with in a seventh story, the introductory story to the collection, appropriately entitled The Sacred Marriage, where a literary scholar must decide on his own relationship to a deceased poet and his work. However, before pursuing an analysis of this story, Oatess own perceptions on the subject of art will be considered. Basically she feels that all art is primarily a natural, spontaneous, inevitable motion of the soul, unique in our species; and, second, that it

becomes transformed as it is directed toward a certain social, moral or religious context....3 Since art is specific for the human species, as is spoken language, she believes that everyone is capable of artistic activities, in one form or another. Art grows out of playfulness, fantasy or spontaneity; it is a celebration of the (childs) imagination.4 In this positive vein, all creativity is seen as a gift, an offering, that brings something new into the world. That might entail a clarification of something, a vision, a new style, some new aspect.5 Life is energy, as Oates says, and energy is creativity. Even after the individuals death, that energy still resides in the work of art, awaiting release if only someone will take the time and the care to unlock it.6 In the process of explaining something to herself, she also hopes to be able to explain to others. Art is a way of ordering or organizing fantasies, problems or doubts; making sense out of an absurd world. In other words, art is both illustrative and educational, but also mainly a means of communication. Although Oates cannot embrace Jungs theories on male and female archetypes, she does accept his ideas on creativity as a function of the Unconscious, since she cannot quite explain the dream-like or mysterious origin of creativity.7 Fundamentally, art is based on an emotional experience: I would like to create the psychological and emotional equivalent of an experience, so completely and in such exhaustive detail, that anyone who reads it sympathetically will have experienced that event in his mind (which is where we live anyway).8 This emotional transfer from one person, the artist, to another, her presumptive audience, she calls the magical experience of art. That is why Oates can make the statement that [a]ll art is autobiographical, since art serves as the record of an artists own psychic experience.9 However, it is important for her to disguise the personal source and to render autobiographical elements universal. She feels it is quite exciting to synthesize her own self with that of others, or to make use of various small events from quotidian life, e g, small adventures, errors, miscalculations, stunning discoveries, near-disasters.... But it is always essential to rework these details into a fictional structure so that no one could guess how autobiographical it all is.10 When fusing, or synthesizing as she calls it, her life with that of others she certainly hopes that she will not appear vampiristic, because she would like to immortalize all those who lead lives of interest, but who are inarticulate themselves.11


In spite of careful camouflaging the reality-based source of some texts can be traced. As an example, Oates herself tells of one particular story, Plot, based on herself and a young man she knew who was addicted to drugs at the time, but did survive. That story was written down, in fact, recorded, as I was experiencing it, second by second.12 Yet another event triggered two short stories, published fourteen years apart. In Detroit Oates had a Jewish student who committed suicide after he killed a rabbi in a synagogue. This troubled Oates so much that not long afterwards she took to the pen in The Detroit Free Press (1966) to voice her anguish and guilt at having failed to help this student; she also attempted to provide an apology for the crimes committed.13 The first story based on this event appeared in 1970 entitled In the Region of Ice. A Catholic nun is confronted by a brilliant but disruptive Jewish student who challenges Sister Irene in her protected and icy regions provided by both the church and the academic world. He is simply trying to force her into a human relationship.14 Oates here places major emphasis on the teachers role. In Last Days from 1983 a Jewish student also enrolled in a Catholic university assassinates a rabbi, and then commits suicide.15 In many respects, these two stories are quite different, both technically and thematically speaking. What is of interest in our present context is the fact that such a personally experienced event can manifest itself in several different literary texts. Eileen Bender even makes the claim that this incident has served as a model for many Oatsean characters, particularly what she terms maddened terrorists and self-styled messiahs.16 Aside from autobiographical or reality-influenced material, Oates claims that she wastes plenty of time in daydreaming. When living in Ontario, Canada, for instance, she had a waterfront home and she would spend hours just watching the river. She would gradually people the empty space. By the time she sat down at her desk, the story was already thought through. If it was a short story, it might just require an evenings work, provided she could type that fast. A compulsion to draw faces is yet another preparatory activity for writing. She estimates that she has drawn several million faces in [her] life.17 I believe that writing should recreate a world, sanctifying the real world by honoring its complexities, Oates claims in her Afterword to The Poisoned Kiss (1975), thus elevating the mundane to sanctification.18 In all her critical work she emphasizes this process of sanctification, the magic aspects of art.


This explains her close affinity with Yeatss daimonic qualities referred to at the outset of this chapter. Besides the personal, spontaneous, divine and magic qualities of art, Oates also emphasizes its transformative potential. Greatness in art resides in it presenting a depth, soul or vision. This is what Oates feels separates the serious artist from the amateur. While art celebrates what is unique in an individuals very personal experience or thought, it must also bring the subject matter to a universal level. All writing must connect to larger, universal goals.19 If art has any general evolutionary function, it must be to enchance the race, to work somehow toward an essential unity and harmony survival and growth and perhaps an integration of the human world with the natural world.20 As Oates herself points out her ideas on art in general echo Picassos as he sums up what painting means to him:
Painting isnt an aesthetic operation, its a form of magic designed as a mediator between the strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.21

The keywords magic, hostile, terrors, mediator and desires frequently occur when Oates discusses not only creativity in general, but fiction writing in particular. She is also concerned, as seen above, about providing a bridge between the different worlds. Finally, the role of the artist is considered here. Akin to Picasso Oates also sees herself as an intermediary, or a medium.22 The candle is not there to illuminate itself is a Sufi saying that Oates invokes to explain her own role, meaning that the artist is not there to throw light on herself, but to illuminate the world to the best of her ability.23 Far from providing entertainment for her audience she feels that she should bear witness to whatever is happening around her.24 Since we live in a violent-ridden society, her fiction is naturally a reflection of this fact. Her task is very much to dramatize the nightmares of [her] time....25 At times she is inspired by news stories or headlines, for instance. This was the case with her novel Wonderland (1971), which might serve as an illustrative example. In an article she describes in detail how several newspaper items about similar family suicide/murder tragedies triggered her into a long process of what she calls dreaming-through:


I think about the entire novel living through various scenes, hearing or inventing dialogue, walking around with my characters in my head for months; only when the process is completed can I begin to write, and I cant hurry the process. I can assign to myself occasional tasks how to manage a certain scene, how to dramatize the relationship of one character to another before going to sleep at night, and sometimes by morning I have figured out the problem sometimes....26

Once this intuitive stage is finished, then she can sit down to write the first draft. It is put aside to mature until Oates feels the time is come for me to really formalize it. Then the second and final draft, what she considers to be the most enjoyable part, is begun. Ideally the writers function, Oates feels, is to act as the conscience of his race.27 Since 1965 she admits to focusing her writing on contemporary American society (with a few exceptions) in order to explore the sources of power politically, economically through various areas and professions, such as medicine, education, religion, the law. Her portrait gallery includes everyone from country preacher to mass murderer, teenagers, university professors, housewives and small-time crooks. According to one critic her panorama of American life is akin to a cyclorama, i e, a pre-movie device that provided you with tiny details as well as overall perspectives of great historical events.28 In a lecture delivered at Bennington College in 1994, Oates explains the two primary functions of both art and the artist. First, the intention is to create an aesthetic object to exist in the world as rightfully as any other object. Her emphasis is not on what is said, but rather how it is said. The artist should be able to create an uncommon object out of common material. Second, the artist should evoke a response in the audience or in society, a sympathetic response. Or any response.29 Since art is social and contextual, it must reach out in this way; hence it cannot be but historical.30 This is why Oates clearly refutes the long-cherished myth of the isolated artist. Granted, the work itself is solitary, by its very nature. But that does not mean that the artist must be excluded from the community. Because the artist is told that she is original, highly individual, solitary, her successes, and particularly her failures are all her own.31 The result of this isolation and illusion of originality, as Oates sees it, can be extremely destructive to the artist. Naming Sylvia Plath and John Berryman as two cases in point,


she refers to the many suicides or breakdowns that occur among gifted artistic people. Instead Oates stresses the communal properties of art, the mystics belief that the selfis part of a larger reservoir of energy. All creative work should be a communal effort an attempt by an individual to give voice to many voices, an attempt to synthesize and explore and analyze.32 As a writer she feels very strongly connected to a literary tradition where no one exists in a vaccum. I dont have much autonomous existence, nor does anyone else it seems we are individual and separate, whereas in fact were not.33 Being a part of a long literary tradition, she openly emphasizes her debt to other writers, claiming she would simply not exist without them. In other words, she experiences no Bloomian anxiety of influence. The stories treated in this study are of course a strong case in point. One way of finding this community in the spirit of other writers is naturally through reading. Great writers are also great readers. Oates claims in numerous interviews that she loves to read, and that reading is naturally linked to writing. She is constantly reading in three areas: rereading old works, reading new novels, recent criticism and texts in magazines and reviews. It is a well known fact that she is a frequent reviewer and writer for many prestigious publications, such as The New York Times Book Review, Psychology Today, Writer, Modern Fiction Studies, The New York Review of Books. According to Oates reading must be the greatest pleasure of civilization.34 However, she is selective and will return any galleys sent for reviewing that she does not like. When asked about particular authors who have influenced her work, she responds in the following way: Ive been reading for so many years, and my influences must be so vast-it would be difficult to answer.35 Yet, in the same breath she does go on to mention Thoreau and James, both authors to be discussed in this study, as very early influences, together with Flannery OConnor and William Faulkner. Her own very first books as a child were the stories about Alice by Lewis Carroll. She still appreciates his humor, illogic and elements of horror. Her own novel Wonderland from 1971 clearly shows evidence of this influence. In college she was introduced to Faulkner as well as Kafka, the latter is also included in this study. When examining her works on literary criticism, it is evident that certain names keep appearing, such as D H Lawrence, Kafka, Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath and James Joyce, her artistic community that provides her


with a sense of continuity, a sense of belonging. As a very concrete way of connecting to the great literary tradition, she likes to point out that she was born on Bloomsday, i e, June 16 (in 1938). Still other influential writers are Melville, Flaubert, the Bronts, Hemingway, Katherine Anne Porter, Freud, Jung, Nietzsche, Sartre, and Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain by the latter, particularly its dealings with civilization, was on her mind, for instance, while she was writing her first novel A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967).36 Oates takes Flauberts statement that we must love one another in our art as the mystics love one another in God very seriously. For her it is a natural process to honor her predecessors be referring to their work, or ideas. As will be shown in the next chapter, she often invokes other writers intertextually, in various ways, directly or indirectly. By honoring one anothers creation we honor something that deeply connects us all, and goes beyond us.37

Both the act of artistic creation, and the artists persona, are defined by Oates as separate from the ego of the individual. When discussing Picasso in 1972, Oates notes that he had also evidently realized the existence of these two aspects of the self that are not related, though symbiotic.38 In 1994 she reopens the subject in a humorous, yet very personal keepsake entitled JCO and I, a limited edition printed to accompay an exhibition of her work at The University of Rochester, New York. In this two-page pamphlet she claims that JCO is the other, not a person, or even a personality, but a process that has resulted in a sequence of texts. Although she herself shares a name and face with JCO, this should not deceive anyone. While she is mortal, physical, existing in time, aging by the hour, JCO is ephemeral and ageless. Their relationship can best be defined as diamagnetic, since they each repulse each other like magnetic poles. Occasionally JCO will use details from Oatess life or personal history, but only because the history is close at hand, and then only when some idiosyncrasy about it suits her design, or some curious element of the symbolic.39 Once in response to an interviewers question about the perfect mood required for her personally to be able to write, she explained that her own


state of mind did not matter, since art has a genuinely transcendental function a means by which we rise out of limited, parochial states of mind. Even if she has been exhausted, or her soul has been as thin as a playing-card, or that nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes, yet when forcing herself to write, she has been able to forget about herself. As an illustration she tells the story of James Joyces use of The Odyssey as a structural device and parody. The important function was to use it as a bridge to get his soldiers across, regardless of whether it was plausible. She draws a parallel to the writer and her work: One might say the same thing about the use of ones self as a means for the writing to get written.40 Joyce Carol Oates appears to take the form of several writerly selves, since she has published a series of novels, thrillers, under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith, adapted from her husbands name Raymond Smith.41 In the case of a short story collection entitled The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (1975) Oates in fact shares the authors space with Fernandes. In an introductory note she claims that the stories were translated from an imaginary work. In an afterword she explains the very process of creation: One day in 1970 she had written a very strange story that did not seem to be her own. She was besieged by Fernandes in story after story, without having any interest in Portugal. The only way she could accept these stories was to look upon them as a literary adventure, or a cerebral/Gothic commentary on my own writing.... Although she then read voluminously in occultism, parapsychology, mysticism and other related topics, she could never comprehend what had happened.42 The above account is truly an illustration of the sacred mystery of creativity that Oates so often refers to. Reportedly a quote from Henry James is pinned to the bulletin board above her work desk, a quotation that summarizes many of her ideas on writing: We work in the dark we do what we can we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.43 Yet her own definition of art from 1994 perhaps best echoes the irrationality, timelessness, mystery and danger of art discussed above, where the artist is not in command but is simply driven by ineffable forces: art is a firestorm rushing through Time, arising from no visible source and conforming to no principles of logic or causality.44


In the very first story of the collection Marriages and Infidelities Oates concretely demonstrates many of the aesthetic issues raised and discussed above.45 Its very title, The Sacred Marriage, points to the major subject matter, be it marriage in the conventional sense between husband and wife, or a relationship between man and art, between his heart and mind, in other words, between the rational and the irrational. In many ways this introductory short story sets a pattern for the entire collection, especially in its selection of themes and intertextual strategies. Howard Dean in The Sacred Marriage is a plain college teacher who has become interested in doing research on the papers left behind by a poet named Connell Pearce. Dean drives down to West Virginia from Wisconsin to visit the poets home where he finds an entire room of manuscripts and papers. His excitement grows as Pearces charming widow begins to take an interest in him not only as a scholar. They become lovers. He leaves his dreary motel and moves in with Emilia. One day she asks him if she should get pregnant. As a consequence he begins to contemplate marriage and treats her like a future wife. On his eleventh day at the poets house, another researcher arrives on the scene, much to Howards consternation. When Emilia takes Felix on a tour of the house, Howard overhears the same phrases repeated from his own tour of the house. Shocked he confronts Emilia in due course, who, it turns out, has never had any intention of marrying him, much less of ever leaving that house and her sacred mission there. Feeling rejected and utterly depressed he drives off into the dark of the night.46 On the surface this might seem like a trite triangular drama, with a smart young widow using her dead husbands poetry as a means of constantly attracting new lovers. This certainly raises many questions particularly pertaining to Emilias role, as well as the influence of the dead poet. In addition to this physical reality level, however, there is also another level that might be called metaphysical. Although Howard drives away confused and depressed, he begins to realize that his visit has served a deeper purpose. He has undergone a transformation through the literature of Pearce with Emilia as a connective medium.


Indications of Howards transformation can be detected throughout the story. First of all, by method of comparison Howard is made to compare himself, i e his old Madison self, with a new self very much akin to the poets. Second, there are clues given in the vocabulary, especially chosen to pertain to the title. This combination of vocabulary and comparisons forces the reader to realize the shift from physical into metaphysical level, which eventually leads to a revelation of the protagonists metamorphosis. Third, there is the presence of an intertextual link to the ancient myth of sacred prostitution that still further emphasizes aspects of transcendence. The very first comparison we are struck by is Howards description of Pearces and his own homes. As he is approaching tiny Mouth-of-Lowmoor by car he is enthralled by the beauty of the West Virginia mountains. The landscape appears to be a kind of paradise. Another world.47 The houses are all painted pure white. He feels excited, even high, perhaps not just from being high up, but metaphorically speaking (12). With a childlike enthusiasm he approaches the Pearce home. It turns out to be a small mansion, a Victorian house of three stories that was rather shocking at first, monstrous and gaunt, arrogant and ugly, all drab red brick, with abortive spires and cupolas, and white trim that had begun to peel. This is his first ambiguous, confused impression of the house, where he unconsciously uses sexual terminology. Is it monstrous or attractive? (13) But soon enough he realizes that Connell Pearce had a habit of planning his homes so carefully, he had contrived such a mystique of places that this home also must have been chosen for a purpose (13). He recalls a few lines by Pearce on this very topic:
We become the places we inhabit our faces grow transparent as their names, frail with holy surprise (14)

When Howard thinks of himself in relationship to his home in Madison, Wisconsin, Pearces poem certainly rings true. Howard lived in an ordinary apartment building, fairly attractive but, as Oates so aptly points out, forgettable(13). At times, as a matter of fact, he even forgets where he lives and thinks he is still living with his parents back in the East, or still worse, maybe nowhere at all (13).

Howards uncertainty about where he belongs is further underlined by a description of him as eternally suspended in air, waiting for something. [H]e often thought of himself as a man making a telephone call, a man not yet connected with his party...suspended, no longer safe in the privacy of his own silence, yet not absorbed in the conversation that lay ahead. At the age of thirty-seven he is still awaiting...the event that might change his life and give it value (15). Events at Mouth-of-Lowmoor will prove to be beyond his wildest expectations. Although Howard at this point is not consciously aware of the transformation he is about to undergo, this comparison of homes, as well as his state of limbo, is the very beginning. The next stage in bringing him to a new consciousness will be comparisons on a more personal level. It was frightening to realize the immense difference between men Howard notes when comparing himself to the dead poet (16). For a long time Howard had been fascinated by Pearces authorship and had seen him as his contemporary in these confused, unserious, tragic times(16). At this point, however, he believes that Pearce could be a guide for all Americans. He even thinks of the poet in god-like terms: Howard had been aware of Connell Pearce at a distance, living out a parallel life, a presence, not ghostly but very solid, substantial, the kind of transparent substance Howard had once attributed to God (16). In fact, he feels Pearce has created him, that he would not have survived without his work (17). Yet, when comparing himself to the poet, Howard feels insubstantial rather transparent, even invisible, whereas Pearce, although dead appears to him on some photos to be a strong, vital, very visible man (Oatess italics, 23). Gradually Howard seeks identification with the dead man. He gets mixed up among the documents in Pearces room to such a degree that at times he does not know whether he or the poet has scribbled notes in the margin. This echoes some of Oatess views discussed above. Other characters will also experience this blurring of personalities in practically all the stories to be discussed in this study. Howard consciously practices copying Pearces signature, for example, so that he thinks he could match it perfectly(30). These are all examples of Howards slow transformation, as if he is being molded into a new person in a mysterious, unknowable way, akin to religious mystery. Emilia is yet another point of comparison. She is contrasted to Joan, the woman Howard is living with in Madison. Joan is a divorce with a two-


year-old daughter; she works as a secretary at the university where he is teaching. She is described as a nervous, unhappy, confused young woman, sometimes morbidly dependent upon Howard, and at other times quite indifferent to him...(14). This brief description of Joan is entirely psychological, whereas Emilia is described in physical terms. She is seen as extremely beautiful, Emilias face, for instance, is heart-shaped, girlish, pretty... unnaturally pretty(18 ). Before arriving at her house and having seen only one blurred photograph, he had simply not given much thought to the widow. Since the research project has been his primary interest, he has up to this point seen her as a presence, a medium between himself and the dead poet(15). How right he was indeed! It is of interest to note here that this will also be his final impression of her. However, in between these two stages there is a middle section where his conception of Emilia as a woman takes over entirely, i e, on the level of physical reality. Right before he is to meet Emilia, he does begin to think of her, perhaps unconsciously, in sexual terms. He thinks of how his letter asking permission to come and do research must have touched her in a special way that no other similar request had. In fact, a Harvard man he knew, much better established than Howard, had been refused. He thinks of his own letter as a seed fertilizing an egg, so swiftly, so accidentally, yet by immutable design a single seed, a single egg, while billions of other seeds had been helpless, wasted, sterile...(18). As she later shows him around the house he notices her legs as she ascends the stairs before him, and he stares at her back (21). He also remarks that she has a tendency to stay close to him and had a habit of lightly touching his arm with her fingertips (25). This is of course reminiscient of Pearces magic touch. By touching a person with his fingertips he could absorb that person... and could live through many different people in that fashion (27). Doubtlessly, but without being tangible, this kind of ability to enter the lives of others reminds us of some of Oatess pronouncements. As it turns out, Pearce has perpetuated this ability through Emilia. All throughout the physical level where Emilia is seen as a sexual figure and which ends in betrayal, there is at the outset a dreamy or hazy atmosphere enveloping their relationship. This is a characteristic to reappear in several of the stories to be discussed. Perhaps simple giddiness from being in love makes Howard experience their love-making like an event in a dream(29). Or is it his sense of unreality, of experiencing the impossible? Her eyes, her


mouth, were dreamily distorted to him, as if observed through a hazy medium(29). He is exposed to the mystical transformative qualities of love. The sexual act becomes a sacrament transporting him onto planes of existence far from his usual mundane world. In the Pearces marital bed there is simply not a fusion of two, but of Howard, Emilia, as well as Connell: The boundaries between the three of them became hazy(32). This very scene is later repeated in Oatess The Dead where the present lover is fused with lovers of the past, including the dead. Just as Emilia had picked out Howard among numerous other scholars, so had Connell picked her out among other women to marry. Although she was already married at the time, she had left her husband, feeling she had no choice. I had to go with Connell(33). Since this was only a few months before his death, she never got to know him very well. Neither did anyone else: He didnt want anyone to know him, because he thought people would confuse him with his poetry. He just wanted the poetry, i e, the mystery or transformative powers of literature (26). These are the very ideas expressed by the writers persona, the eidolon and the physical writer that Oates brings to the forefront in JCO and I. It does appear as if Pearce had carefully prepared his departure. He alone knew that he was suffering from cancer. He then decided to marry a young and beautiful woman. Together they returned to his home town, but not to the house where he grew up. Instead he purchased one of the largest farms in the area, and in the bargain obtained someone elses inheritance; the house came complete with furnishings et al. He wanted to be remembered as a poet not as a man. The temporal housing of his literary production in someone elses home is akin to using the corporal body to house the soul, or as in this story, the poet housing his literary legacy and his spirit with a beautiful woman he barely knows. In a similar way, the poets art is housed within Howard through his sexual affair with the poets wife, but like the human body, or the house with its furnishings, the affair is temporal. His scholarly study to be written will then be the concrete result, or fertilization, of that union. The book thus conceived, hopefully to be published, will render the poets art eternal. According to Oatess theory of art discussed in this chapter, The Sacred Marriage exemplifies and testifies to the overwhelming power and mystery of art and the artist, in a positive sense, to transform the individual.


When perusing Pearces papers Howard runs across notes from some religious riddles and parables. With mounting stupefaction he proceeds to read the story of a Spanish novelists transformation from man into his art:
X is about to die and wants to write the novel of his own life, extended beyond his life. In Madrid he selects a certain woman. He is a noble, dying old man, she is a very beautiful young woman. She is worthy of being his wife. And therefore he marries her, and she nurses him through his last illness, buries him, and blesses all the admirers of his art who come to her, or she alone retains Xs divinity. Her body. Her consecration. A multitude of lovers of X, and she blesses them without exception, in her constant virginity (36).

This story within the story, a mise-en-abme, contains the real clue to Emilias function, found in words such as virginity, divinity, blesses, consecration. Since Emilia avows to no prior knowledge of this passage, the mystery mounts. As readers we are forced to look elsewhere for meaning, to leave the physical level for the metaphysical. The concrete comparisons, of habitat, women and men, have already geared us in that direction. The use of religious terminology further reinforces the idea that there is more to this story than a triangular drama. We have already witnessed how the poet has been described in god-like terms. His very home is a temple of devotion. Even the barn is holy(25). Pearces workroom is a sacred place(22). Picking up a hand-written poem there almost makes Howard weep and he puts down the poem as if he had touched something sacred, because he felt the depths of his being plucked by an unfathomable power (24). Howards experience of Pearces poetry has indeed been of a religious nature. In a world described as chaotic, these poems have inspired Howard, at least, to believe in something, that it is not simply the pious who have hope of being saved (18). Howard who has felt unconnected, suspended in a limbo, without a purpose in his life, does feel saved by Pearce who has partly created him. These Christ-like qualities are completed in the way Howard views Connells death. He has concretized death, a recurring theme in this collection, for Howard, as well as Emilia, and has, as a consequence, removed his fear of death: By dying, Pearce had shown him the way to die otherwise death might have seemed to Howard unimaginable(18).


Returning to Emilias role, in particular the consecration of her body as foretold in the outlined mise-en-abme story, there is no doubt about the intended religious references. Since consecration signifies declaring something holy, or more specifically it refers to the ritual transformation of the Eucharist, bread and wine, into the body and blood of Jesus, the (godlike) poet has by doing so declared his wife sacred, a sacrament, in the Christian sense, to be taken by Howard. Thus his transformation is performed. The poets intention is to live on through his wife who fills the function of medium through which communion with the poet is facilitated. Through sexual intercourse she blesses all lovers (36). Yet, she remains in constant virginity (36) and is frequently referred to as chaste in her behavior (18, 37).48 This extraordinary marriage between Connell and Emilia can rightfully be called a hiers gmos which is the Greek for sacred marriage, i e, the very title of Oatess story. Similarly to all the other reimagined stories in this series Oates has also retained the exact title of the original for this very first story. In this case she has taken the title from chapter XII in Sir James G Frazers classic from 1922 on magic and religion, The Golden Baugh.49 This particular chapter deals with the old practice, in ancient cultures, of a young womans marriage to a god and the subsequent ritual of sacred prostitution. These were often seen as fertility rites and ensured immortal life.50 Except for the title and the general idea of divine prostitution, Oates has also chosen names for her story that appear in the original. The fact that the Pearce home is located on Lydia Street is one such example. Frazer informs us of a particular inscription, in Greek, on a marble column found at Tralles in Lydia, which proves that the practice of religious prostitution survived in that country as late as the second century of our era. This is the record of a certain woman named Aurelia Aemilia. Not only did she herself serve the god in the capacity of a harlot at his express command, but...her mother and other female ancestors had done the same before her....51 It can be no mere coincidence that Oates has selected these two rather unusual names, Lydia and Emilia. Of course the modern Emilias family did not approve of her choice to leave her husband for Pearce. In fact, they were disgusted, as Emilia puts it herself, and they never forgave her (32). Yet a third name may coyly be an echo from The Golden Bough: the scholar who arrives upon the scene to Howards great astonishment is named Felix Fraser. Carol A Martin suggests that perhaps Oates too has contrived a mystique


of names like Connell Pearces mystique of places even the names of places(13).52 Oatess story certainly begins with an emphasis on nature and fruitfulness, as Howard leaves his drab life and home approaching what he regards as a paradise, all green, which hypnotizes him right from the start. It is harvest time, when the rituals of the sacred marriage were traditionally performed. As he catches sight of Emilia, in the garden, the very first time, she is dressed in green, the color of hope, vegetation, growth. The next day when he rings on her door, he notes how her dark hair curved in curls and tendrils(18). Once again her dress is green, a leaf-colored green (19). According to Judith Ochshorn in The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine, this jubilant quality is a constant feature in most accounts of the Sacred Marriage. A second feature was the dominant role played by the woman. Her active sexuality was seen only as good, since it served a greater communal purpose. There were no implications of monogamy on her part. This is certainly true for Emilia who selects Howard among a great number of interested scholars. She also takes the sexual initiative, to his shock and delight. And she rejects his offer of a conventional marriage relationship in favor of her sacred undertaking. In sum, the heart of the Sacred Marriage ritual for the woman, according to Ochshorn, was the great power over life, fertility, and destiny, the energizing character of her sexuality in her aspect as goddess of love and fertility, and her role in actively seeking out and sexually enjoying the king.53 In Oatess Sacred Marriage religious ritual, pagan or Christian, has been replaced by art to gain a similar experience. Emilia has thus been divinely consecrated to stay in Connells holy temple, to receive a selection of men there, blessing them through her body and consequently putting them in touch with the god (the poet) and his works. This is how Howard, an ordinary man, experiences a transformation and comes away uplifted. At first though he reacts, on the level of reality, like a man betrayed, as a rival arrives on the scene. On the twelfth night, yet another significant religious reference to a holy number used both in Christianity (twelve apostles, twelve tribes) and ancient Greece (Pantheon had twelve gods) and Babylonia (twelve was the base of the numeral system), he drives off in despair in the middle of the night. He even contemplates ending his life there on the mountain roads, as he is becoming an ordinary man again, but he undergoes an epiphany and


gains insight into the deeper implications of his experience. His initial disappointment is exchanged for a passion in the last line of the short story, passion in a religious sense. He feels like a missionary before the task of making Pearce known to the world: that was his mission, the shape of his life. It was a sacred obligation and he was going to fulfill it(38). Pearces intentions have proved to be successful whether in the ancient tradition of hiers gmos or the Christian sense of a state of grace. To invoke an earlier and worldlier image, Howard Dean has finally been connected with his party, with Emilia acting the part of an operator. The Sacred Marriage is thus a proper opening story for Oatess volume of re-imagined stories, since it celebrates the magic qualities of art and its transforming powers. Using an ancient and widespread myth, Oates affirms the artist in the role of the divine bringer of new life to the human and natural worlds.54 Some of the marriages under scrutiny here will be between regular mortals, while others are marriages in another sense with a phase of art, with something that transcends the limitations of the ego, as Oates explains herself.55 While Howard, on the one hand, has realized the divine nature of art in his transcending experience of self, the reader, on the other hand, might also have undergone a similar transformation. Literature, or art in general, is one way of transcending the ordinary, to find redemption in the extraordinary.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Joe Bellamy, The New Fiction, Interviews with Innovative American Writers (Urbana:Univ of Illinois Press,1974) 22. ibid. Leif Sjberg, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, ed. Lee Milazzo (Jackson:Univ Press of Mississippi, 1989) 107. Joyce Carol Oates, The Life of the Writer, the Life of the Career (The Bennington Chapbook in Literature, Oct 19, 1994):1. Sjberg 107. Jay Parini, A Taste of Oates in Milazzo 155. Sjberg 115. Transformation of Self: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates in Milazzo 49. Fiction, Dreams, Revelations, preface in Scenes from American Life, Contemporary Short Fiction, editor J C Oates (New York: Vanguard Press, 1973) vii-viii.

10 Oates, Transformation of Self, 51. 11 Bellamy 31. 12 ibid. 13 Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wishnetsky: Joyce Oates Supplies a Missing View. The Detroit Free Press, 6 March 1966, 1-2, 12-13. 14 Joyce Carol Oates, In the Region of Ice in The Wheel of Love (Greenwich: Fawcett, 1970) 18. 15 Joyce Carol Oates, Last Days (New York: Dutton, 1984). 16 Eileen Teper Bender, Joyce Carol Oates: Artist in Residence (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987) 169. 17 Joe Bellamy, The Dark Lady of American Letters in Milazzo 18. 18 Fernandes/Joyce Carol Oates, The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (Greenwich: Fawcett, 1975) 218. 19 Joyce Carol Oates, The Unique/Universal in Fiction, The Writer 86, No 1(Jan 1973):11. 20 ibid., 10. 21 Oates, Transformation of Self, 53. 22 Michael and Ariane Batterberry, Focus on Joyce Carol Oates in Milazzo 45. 23 ibid., 46. 24 Sjberg 110-111. 25 Joyce Carol Oates, New Heaven and Earth, Saturday Review Nov 4, 1972: 51. 26 Oates, The Unique/Universal, 12.


27 Parini 155. 28 Lee Milazzo, editor, Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates (Jackson: Univ Press of Mississippi, 1989) introduction xi. 29 Oates, The Life of the Writer, 13-14. 30 ibid. 31 Joyce Carol Oates, The Myth of the Isolated Artist, Psychology Today May 1973: 75. 32 ibid. 33 Walter Clemons, Joyce Carol Oates: Love and Violence in Milazzo 35. 34 Bellamy 22-23. 35 Robert Phillips, Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction in Milazzo 74. 36 John Alfred Avant, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates in Milazzo 29. 37 Phillips 81. 38 Oates, Transformation of Self, 53. 39 Joyce Carol Oates, JCO and I (Concord: William B Ewert, 1994). 40 Phillips 65. 41 So far the following novels have appeared under pseudonym: Lives of the Twins (87), Soul/Mate (89), Nemesis (90), Snake Eyes (92), You Cant Catch Me (95) and Double Delight (98). 42 Fernandes/Joyce Carol Oates, The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (Greenwich: Fawcett, 1975). 43 Johnson 1994: 14. 44 Oates, JCO and I. 45 An early and only partial version of this analysis was published in Vitterhetsnjen, Ume Studies in the Humanities, May 1, 1980: 289-294. 46 Henry Jamess novella The Aspern Papers also deals with a similar topic and might, to a limited extent, be seen as an intertextual link. An American ruthless literary scholar becomes obsessed with a dead poet, Jeffrey Aspern. In order to obtain the Aspern papers he is ready to do anything. He loses sight of all moral and aesthetic values, lies about his identity, invades the private home of two American ladies in Venice, leads the younger woman into false expectations of love and marriage, breaks his promises, and is even prepared to literally walk over dead bodies to get what he wants. In contrast to Oates, James shows us in this case a scholar whose obsession misleads him into dishonesty and amoral conduct. This could hardly be said of Howard, except in the personal sphere where his infidelity to Joan, his fiance, is not dealt with at all.


In this study of intertextuality it is of special interest to note the source of Jamess story. In 1887 James had heard about two English ladies in Florence who supposedly had some letters of Shelley and Byron in their possession. An American critic in pursuit of these treasures had taken lodgings with these ladies. When the elder of the two died, the niece offered him the papers in return for marriage, a price which he was not prepared to pay (see Kenneth B Murdoch, Introduction to Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers 1888 (New York:Dutton, 1969) v-viii. For further references on intertextual links to Oates consult Hermann Severin, The Image of the Intellectual in the Short Stories of Joyce Carol Oates (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang), 1986; and Eileen Bender, Autonomy and Influence: Joyce Carol Oatess Marriages and Infidelities, Soundings 58. 3 (Fall 1975): 390-406. 47 Joyce Carol Oates, The Sacred Marriage in Marriages and Infidelities (New York:Fawcett Crest, 1972) 3. All subsequent references will be placed parenthetically in the text. 48 It is curious to note that according to the dictionary chaste is defined as not indulging in unlawful sexual activity. 49 James G Frazer, The Golden Baugh, A Study in Magic and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1924) 139-146. 50 In later chapters Frazer gives many examples from various cultures of theogamy and sacred prostitution. In Cyprus, for instance, all women were obliged before marriage to prostitute themselves to strangers at the sacred place of a goddess. In Babylon it was considered a religious duty for every woman, regardless of social class, to prostitute herself at the temple of Mylitta at least once in her life. All wages thus earned were given over to the goddess (Frazer 330). In many cultures there were festivals and merry-making often in the fall at harvest time to celebrate the spirits of vegetation and to stimulate further reproduction. These are rites that have lived on in pastoral scenes depicted in art, in pastoral plays, and in our celebration of Midsummer in Sweden. In some of these festivals a real or mock wedding took place. Diana, the goddess of woods, beasts, hunting, fertility, for instance, had her nuptials re-celebrated every year, either by images or by living persons re-enacting the ceremony (Frazer 140-142). Frey is mentioned as a Swedish god of fertility whose image was annually drawn about the country in a waggon attended by a beautiful girl who was called the gods wife and who acted as his priestess at the Uppsala temple (143). 51 Frazer 331. I am grateful to Carol A Martin for pointing out some of these connections in her article Art and Myth in Joyce Carol Oatess The Sacred Marriage in The Midwest Quarterly 28.4 (1987) : 540-52. 52 Martin 543.


53 Judith Ochshorn, The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1981) 124. 54 Martin 551. 55 Clemons 77.


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Books always speak of other books and every story tells a story that has already been told Umberto Eco

When Margaret Laurence states that [a]nyone who writes in the English language is in some way an inheritor of Shakespeare and Milton, of Fielding and Jane Austen, of Dickens and Thackeray she implies not only the inevitability of belonging to a literary tradition, but also the fact that reading and writing are linked activities, and that the reader quite naturally enters into a dialog with any text consumed.1 As a postcolonial Canadian and a woman writer Laurence also, without having to define them, automatically falls into two marginal categories, whose relationship to the dominant culture over the years has been, and still is, problematic; most commonly it is defined in terms of otherness. How can a woman writer who has been brought up on the traditional male canon find a voice of her own? These are the very issues addressed in the first section of this chapter: theories of intertextuality; the role of reading and reader response; the relationship of American women writers to the literary tradition, not only the male Eurocentered but also the American canon; finally, the revisionary movement in the 70s. A second section will more specifically discuss and exemplify Oatesean intertextuality with particular references to titles, biography/autobiography and genre.

Theories of Intertextuality
Traditionally there has been great emphasis on originality in literary works. The more so-called influences discovered, the less original the work was considered. As late as 1955 Ihab Hassan wrote an essay on The Problem

of Influence in Literary History and Harold Blooms study from 1973 The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry also indicates in its very title the emotional response to this issue. In New Criticism the work, or text, was to be judged on its own merits without the interference of any extraneous aspects, such as history, geography, biography, context or gender. Yet, conversely more recent theories regard intertextuality as an enrichment of the text at hand. Intertexo originally meant intermingling or interweaving, a phenomenon commonly found in much literature today, involving multifarious textual elements. For the purposes of this study intertextuality is defined as the relationship between one literary text, by Oates say, and other texts that may also include non-literary elements such as film, visual arts, biography and music. Intertextuality as such is nothing new, although the term was coined in the 1960s by Kristeva. As a matter of fact, it is one of the oldest tropes around. Consider the Bible, history or ancient mythology; they are intertexts to be found everywhere. Within English-speaking literature Shakespearean quotes and allusions abound. Familiarity is assumed, since this is common cultural property, at least in the Western world. No quotes are necessary, which is a true mark of intertextuality. Parables, myths, anecdotes, names, expressions can be invoked without proper footnoting. Intertexts thus provide quick shortcuts. The reader is expected to know what Croesus or Lucifer stand for, what the dove or snake might represent in Christian iconography or what happened to Icarus wings of wax. Without knowledge of the latter from Greek mythology, for instance, it will be difficult to understand either Pieter Breughels painting Icarus or W H Audens poem Muse des Beaux Arts, which both focus on a rural scene with a farmer plowing his field while Icarus dramatic descent into the sea is merely a detail in the background. Intertextuality indicates boundary-crossing as seen above, disrespectfully traversing terrains of genre, time period, authors, subjects, art forms and nations. It must be remembered that any intertext appearing in another text has been edited, selected, transformed, even distorted by the writer, to suit her purposes. Thas Morgan reformulates what is basically Kristevas idea: an intertextual citation is never innocent or direct....2 Hlne Cixous even goes so far as claiming that all writers, being lgataires, hritires, engage in intertextuality appropriating earlier texts. Going all the way back to Saint Augustine she feels there would not have been any literature unless he had stolen those famous pears and then written about it. She then traces


the literary history of theft/flight (the French word vole does not only signify theft but also flight and flying) through Rousseau, Stendahl, Derrida and Joyce, all male ancestors, since there are so few great women writers, according to Cixous.3 T S Eliot was known to quite deliberately stud his writing with learned allusions and usually started with an epigraph in Greek, Italian or another foreign language. This has provided many scholars with challenges to identify his references and sources. Today his work is usually footnoted in detail. Such learned references may alienate some readers entirely. This is always an inherent risk involved in all intertextual practices, since much depends on reader competence. This is a fact recognized as early as 1919 by T S Eliot himself in his essay Tradition and the Individual Talent, where he states that no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.4 To see him and his work in relation to other artists, even dead poets, was of the essence. No poet could be an island unto himself. In other words Eliot is here also emphasizing the importance of literary tradition. He sees the poet as a receptacle or catalyst for storing images, phrases, emotions that will result in a new creation, ideas that are early forerunners to modern theories on intertextuality. Eliots talk of the need for the artists continual extinction of personality also seems to coincide with some of Oatess ideas on the invisibility of the writer.5 Modern intertextuality grew out of a fruitful mix of several European intellectual movements in the 1960s and 70s, such as deconstruction, Russian formalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, and linguistics. Its best known theorists were mostly French: Riffaterre, Genette, Kristeva (Bulgarian from the beginning), Derrida (Algerian originally) and Barthes. Bakhtin actually introduced the phenomenon as such but did not name it. In discussing the novels of Dostoevsky he moved away from the traditional and realistic monological approach which did not take the various idiolects into account or the presence of intertexts from newspapers, or inserted jokes or stories. Instead he speaks of the novel as polyphonic(later to be called heteroglossic). Coupled to this polyphonic theory was also another strongly intertextual element, the carnivalization of literature, i e , connections between literary and non-literary discourses.6 Kristeva then used the groundwork laid by Bakhtin, in itself an expression of intertextuality, for formulating her own theories. Giving full credit to Bakhtin she defines intertextuality as follows:


each word (text) is an intersection of word(sic) (texts) where at least one other word (text) can be read. In Bakhtins work, these two axes, which he calls dialogue and ambivalence, are not clearly distinguished.... any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another.7

What had originally been called intersubjectivity is here defined as intertextuality. Words always contain other words; texts contain other texts. This doubleness or ambivalence situates the text within history and society...and into which he (the writer) inserts himself by rewriting them.8 Thus the writer is first a reader, as Oates often points out, before re-writing or transforming earlier texts. This triangular interaction of reader-writer-text of course means a rejection of New Criticisms notion of the autonomy of the text. However, towards the end of Word, Dialogue, and Novel, Kristeva argues for an anonymous writer who vanishes into the text. Barthes, whose student Kristeva was in Paris, carries this idea to the extreme by declaring the death of the author.9 Yet, both adhere to the notion of texts basically being a mosaic, or tissue according to Barthes, of other texts. In an interview from 1985 Kristeva looks back upon the concept of intertextuality and then emphasizes two issues. First of all she widens the definition of the novel to be rather all-inclusive. Since Bahktin considered the novel as the genre par excellence for intertextuality, she includes journalistic narratives, even poetic texts, and most interestingly autobiographical elements. In reference to Oates this is quite applicable, since she includes certain autobiographical facts, as we shall see, particularly in the revision of Joyces The Dead. Even biographical details from Flauberts or Henry Jamess life will find their way into the revision of their masterpieces by Oates. Second, Kristeva underscores the fact that any textual segment is not just the intersection of two voices, but that it always is the result of the intersection of a number of voices.10 Such a plurality involves the creator in a process of specific dynamics in which the reader by necessity must also participate. Thus the reader in a sense re-creates the text. As examples she suggests that reading Joyces Finnegans Wake without the dynamics of intertextuality would be impossible, or that without a knowledge of the Bible, Faulkners own life, especially his hallucinations, or the American society at that time, too much would be lost in reading Faulkner as well.11


Kristeva here raises the issue of reader competence. Of course anyone can read a text without being able to identify all other invoked texts, but the level of comprehension or appreciation will naturally be limited. One purpose of the present study, and for any critical work, is exactly to assist the reader in gaining access to the multiple voices heard in Oatess stories. This does not mean I will succeed in uncovering them all, but perhaps some of my analyses will lead the reader into further associations and discoveries. In discussing poetry Michael Riffaterre speaks of what he calls the readers manufacture of meaning, not as a straight process but rather a seesaw scanning of the text.12 To me this implies a reading disrupted, or rather interjected, by a myriad of associations, allusions, ideas, challenges. In poetry which goes for short fiction as well it is possible to recommence, reread and quickly go back to cross-check and reinterpret. This seesawing in many ways illustrates the ongoing dialog between various voices in different texts that is a natural part of intertextuality. These European theories of intertextuality were embraced by American literary critics during the 70s. Since intertextuality was born out of an anticolonial resistance to hegemony, it was warmly welcomed across the Atlantic. But in order to fit into a new cultural and intellectual climate, it was assimilated and adapted, according to Susan Stanford Friedman.13 Orthodoxy was never sought, for instance; rather a multiplicity of interpretations was introduced. Since the cult of self, self-reliance and individual independence is so deeply rooted in American culture, the concept of the death of the author was either ignored or repudiated early on. For Jonathan Culler, for example, the death of the author was only one among many aspects of intertextuality.14 Linda Hutcheon emphasizes the need beginning in the 1960s for American writers to find a particularly American voice within the Euro-centered tradition. Ishmael Reed, for instance, parodied and satirized Charles Dickenss beloved A Christmas Carol in his novel The Terrible Twos (1982), in which the US is shown to be more greedily money-grabbing than Scrooge ever was. Other writers do not only use European intertexts, but also invoke intra-American intertexts as well. Thus Barths Letters includes intertexts by Hawthorne, Thoreau, Poe, Cooper and Whitman in addition to Cervantes, Mann, Wells, and Joyce.15 For American groups on the margin who, for reasons of race, class, religion, sexual identity or gender, have been denied full acceptance as individu-


als, the appropriation of the discourse of the self has naturally been of great political and cultural importance. Gay, Black, women and Jewish writers, in particular, have felt the need to emphasize individualism in relationship to the white, male, heterosexual and Christian majority. Nancy K Miller is one of the critics who advocates a particular gynocriticism, which she terms arachnology, referring to Barthes notion of the text as web. Whereas Barthes textual web seems to spin itself, Miller insists on reintroducing the spider, i e, the author.16

At the very end of the 1960s, when Oates was preparing and beginning to write stories for the collection Marriages and Infidelities, feminist literary criticism embarked on its very first project, namely the rereading and reevaluation of the traditional canons great texts. With hindsight this appears as indeed an intertextual pursuit. It did not take long before it was apparent that what came to be called gender blindness characterized these texts.17 Many women have testified to having been brought up on the literature of men, having accepted a male point of view, even having identified with it, and as one critic puts it having to accept as normal and legitimate a male system of values, one of whose central principles is misogyny.18 Thus women first of all had to become resisting reader(s), to use Fetterleys term, in order to exorcise these learned values. Annette Kolodny describes this process aptly in her article entitled Dancing Through the Minefield. She claims that in the 70s the inquiry became fast and furious, not only was the canon being questioned, but also strategies for teaching, reviewing and general aesthetics for these activities.19 In truth, it was no dance, as they were forced to negotiate a minefield; instead her title expresses a wish for coming generations. One obvious effect of this new scholarship was the re-discovery of many forgotten or simply ignored works by women writers. One such case is Charlotte Perkins Gilmans story from 1892, The Yellow Wallpaper, unavailable for some 80 years, republished in 1973 and today considered a classic. The problems facing women writers in the 70s were similar. Traditionally women had been writing for men, in order to be accepted. Even Virginia Woolf did so. For the same reason and to simply get published some early


writers felt they had to adopt male pseudonyms, as did the Bront sisters and Mary Ann Evans. The poet Adrienne Rich felt that her very style had been formed by men, by the men I was reading as an undergraduate.20 The same is of course true of Oates who encountered a male-dominated canon in her literature courses at Syracuse University. What many women critics along with Sandra Gilbert advocated then in the 70s was a return to the history (her-story) of womens literature and to reinterpret central texts by both women and men writers.21 This process of re-vision has been defined by Adrienne Rich as the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction. For her re-vision is an absolute necessity, an act of survival. Rich continues to explain in detail why:
Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society. A radical critique of literature, feminist in its impulse, would take the work first of all as a clue to how we live, how we have been living, how we have been led to imagine ourselves, how our language has trapped as well as liberated us, how the very act of naming has been till now a male prerogative, and how we can begin to see and name-and therefore live afresh.22

Rich describes revision as a dangerous undertaking comparing it to walking on the ice. Mary Daly speaks of finding new space on the boundaries of patriarchy.23 Sandra Gilbert exhorts a revisionary imperative and revisionary passion.24 In revisionary work we unlearn submission, according to yet another critic.25 These critics all agree on revision as the central key to an ongoing literary history. American women, who were not included to begin with, could easily reject Harold Blooms patricidal struggle for autonomy; women simply had no female equivalent. On the contrary, they felt a need to find and retrieve their literary foremothers in order to establish a more representative literary tradition. Many women have also felt a need to both appropriate and revise parts of the canon. As a representative exemple Elaine Showalter tells of numerous appropriated and revised versions of Shakespeares character Miranda from The Tempest to be found in the writings of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Katherine


Anne Porter, Sylvia Plath, Gloria Naylor, Louisa Alcott and Margaret Fuller.26 More recently Jane Smiley did a feminist rewriting of an entire Shakespeare play. In A Thousand Acres (1992) a father decides to divide his multimillion dollar farm among his three daughters. Smiley admits that her novel is a deliberate feminist recasting of King Lear, with focus on the female characters and the disintegration of a farm family in the Midwest. Other women writers undertook the retelling of myths and folklore. Angela Carters The Bloody Chamber (1979) is a feminist revision of traditional fairy tales as is Anne Sextons poetry collection Transformations (1971). Joyce Carol Oates has acknowledged this phenomenon in an article on the fairly tale (1997) where she states that although those who collected the tales were men, the tellers of tales were traditionally women, hence the expression old wives tales. In recent times the fairy tale has been reclaimed by various artists for their own purposes. Many of these postmodern experimental works, as Oates sees it, draw upon tradition while boldly revising it, often from a feminist perspective....27 Ethnic folklore and womens history were also passed on from mother to daughter as in Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club (1989) and The Woman Warrior (1976) by Maxine Hong Kingston. Black women writers appeared on the stage in the 70s retrieving, redefining, rewriting their own history as shown particularly in Toni Morrisons powerful reimagined history of slavery in Beloved (1987), based on a true account. Even customarily male popular genres, such as science fiction, were appropriated by women writers, as for example in Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale (1985). In this ongoing project among American women writers to create a space of their own, incorporating exchanges, intertextuality and appropriations, Elaine Showalter holds up Oatess series of reimagined stories in Marriages and Infidelities as a model. She finds an element of rebellion against patriarchal traditions in these stories displayed as signs of feminist narrative infidelities. The excellent metaphor of marriage, according to Showalter, allows Oates to explore her sense of tradition and originality, the way in which a writer works her way through a history of beloved readings to an autonomous artistic voice.28 Showalters comments very aptly sum up the complex negotiations with works of the past facing women writers at the beginning of the 70s. While they were writing against the literary tradition, they were also writing within it. In a sense their subversions provided them with empowerment from


simply being aware of their predecessors. As Margaret Laurence explained, it was not a matter of rejection but rather assimilation.29 Oatess intention after all is to honor the masters. Had there been a canon of literary foremothers available, empowerment would have come naturally. Instead re-vision, in all its phases, became a means of survival to use Adrienne Richs word. Joyce Carol Oatess series of reimagined texts is thus, for her, a way of finding an autonomous voice, as well as in a more general sense, an example of an important part of womens literary history.

Oatsean Intertextuality
From the very start of her writing career Oates has attempted to re-create or re-write masters literary works with the intent, first of all to practice the art of writing, and second of expressing her wish to join and be a part of the literary tradition. The very first stories she had published in college in The Syracuse Review in 1957 entitled Lament Cantabile and Synchronal were heavily influenced by Faulkner. Some sections of the latter quoted Faulkners A Rose for Emily almost verbatim. Akin to Faulkners Yoknapatawpha, Oates created an imaginary county of her own, called Eden, that was to serve as her microcosm of the American world she was to return to again and again. These two early stories also labored under the influence of Flannery OConnor (whose stories were appearing in magazines during Oatess college years), particularly as far as subject matter, mass murder, and their religious and philosophical asides. A story written during her junior year (1958), In the Old World, was also inspired by OConnor and actually won the Mademoiselle short story contest, a prestigious prize earlier won by Sylvia Plath. Later it was included in her very first anthology of stories By the North Gate. It is a well known fact that Oates throughout her career has used intertextual material in her work. Eileen Bender, for one, has noted in her study on the role of the artist in Oates that in work after work, she alludes to or openly identifies her tutors or daimons. Therefore, Bender believes that any assessment of Oates must emphasize intertextual readings.30 Oates herself clearly and openly declares: Ive been influenced in many ways by nearly everyone Ive read, and Ive read nearly everyone.31 She does not only limit the intertextual relationship between artist and predecessor to mere coexistence but she seeks to establish a relationship, a kind of mar-


riage, between them that is extremely important to her. That is why her texts resonate with the intertexts of her literary mentors, some used in complex patterns throughout the work as later chapters on specific stories in this study will demonstrate, some only loosely invoked or alluded to. Interestingly enough, her mates or tutors, are all males with few exceptions, such as Flannery OConnor. Due to the fact that Oates perceives art as an open and ongoing discourse, and with her insatiable curiosity about human nature, history, culture, art, the self and society her intertexts can be drawn from all walks of life. First of all her texts resonate with echoes of masters works from the literary tradition of the West, e g, Kafka, Milton, Aeschylus, Thoreau, James, Yeats, Shakespeare etc, but on a more detailed level titles, names, quotes as well as genres are recycled. Since Oates strongly believes that all art is autobiographical she frequently uses material from her environment for her texts, either from her own life or background, or else from other peoples lives, be they friends, colleagues, or public figures.

Titular Intertexts
We fall in love with certain works of art, as we fall in love with certain individuals, for no very clear motive, Oates states in The Profane Art.32 Some readings lead to marriages, others to mere temporary infatuation. Yet there is a relationship established between the artist (reader) and her predecessor. Some encounters with certain texts may result in profound revelations about human existence, others might leave a memory or two of sheer details. Literary titles may elicit either of these reactions, as will be demonstrated below in a selection of Oatess choice of titles.Oatess very first collection of stories published in 1963 derived its title from Ezra Pounds translation of the eighth-century Chinese poet Rihaku emphasizing the barbarous nature of her fictive Eden county:
By the North Gate, the wind blows full of sand, Lonely from the beginning of time until now! Trees fall, the grass goes yellow with autumn. I climb the towers to watch out the barbarous land. 33

Her early novel A Garden of Earthly Delights is equally non-edenic in spite of its seemingly biblical allusion, since in fact it refers to a triptych of

Hieronymous Bosch famous for its antipastoral vision.34 This is an early and excellent example of how also the visual arts have provided her with intertextual material. Another case in point is the novella I Lock My Door Upon Myself from 1990 which was inspired by Fernand Khnopffs 1891 painting of that very title. Once again we are back in Eden county, the year is 1890, as in the painting, with focus on a lonely child who grows up to be an outsider in the little town. There is also an autobiographical dimension to this intertext as Oates herself points out: in the sense that the writer locks her door upon herself in the obsessive enterprise of writing.35 Son of the Morning, focusing on a country preacher, does take its title from the biblical passage of the fall of Lucifer. Lucifer also figures in the title Angel of Light, but this is merely a partial explanation. An Angel of Light was also what Thoreau called John Brown, the abolitionist whose story is also evoked by Oates. On yet a third level The Oresteia is employed as an allegorical frame for this work of hers.36 The short story In the Region of Ice takes its title from Shakespeares Measure for Measure. Here it is essential to know the context of the quote since it is used as a coded message, a suicide note, from a mentally disturbed student to his teacher of literature. Claudio thinks of death as the [t]hrilling region of thick-ribbed ice. The teacher in Oatess story, a Catholic nun, is herself stuck in her own icy region and cannot save him; he commits suicide. In an earlier version of the story called Unheard Melodies Oates in a similar fashion echoed Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn. A Stephen Crane poem has furnished Oates with the lengthy title Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. The poem descibes how a naked, bestial creature in a desert is eating his own heart. When asked how it tastes, he answers:
It is bitter bitter.... But I like it Because it is bitter And because it is my heart. 37

In this novel a white girl and a black A-student share a terrible secret: the death of a white boy. Yet in the American 50s the two of them can hardly meet for a cup of coffee. Endless barriers of prejudice, racial hatred separate them. The title implies the high cost of racism that will eat your very soul.

In the same novel popular lyrics such as The Great Pretender (Buck Ram), On the Sunny Side of the Street (Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh) and Blue Skies (Irving Berlin) are invoked for building a 50s atmosphere. Oates often returns to the 1950s, as she does in yet another novel, You Must Remember This. Its title is derived from a song line in the tune As Time Goes By written by Herman Hupfeld, immortalized in the film classic Casablanca, with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in the title roles. The novel features an intensely erotic love affair between a young girl and her uncle during a decade of conformity when such an incestuous passion was an unheard of taboo. Here the title refers to the necessity for young Enid, whose suicide attempt opens the story, to find strength to both go on with her life, and to remember. Except for Eden county quite a few of Oatess works are set in the academy, an environment that she naturally feels at home in. An early story of hers entitled The Expense of Spirit, a quote from Shakespeares 129th sonnet, deals with life in the academy, more specifically Oatess own fairly negative experience of graduate studies in Madison, Wisconsin. Unholy Loves is a novel set in academia that uses a quote from St Augustines Confessions as its title. This particular section deals with the state of Carthage as St Augustine perceived it (or the upstate New York college community that Oates writes about) where a cauldron of unholy loves sang all about my ears.38 As the varied examples in this section on the intertextuality of titles show Oates may gain inspiration from the Bible, the classics, a German or Dutch painter, to Shakespeare, popular song lyrics and Chinese poetry. The same would go for epigraphs invoked or personal names selected for her fiction. The title of any literary work is primarily an advertisement for the product and its contents. When also used intertextually as in so many examples above from Oatess production each title brings with it preconceived notions, expectations, associations in the reader (who does recognize its origin). Intertextual titles might evoke theme, subject matter, atmosphere, era, landscape, character, and will as a consequence enrich the work in question.

Biographical Intertexts
It is inevitable that a writer uses material from her own experiences of life. However, as Oates so carefully points out, it is absolutely necessary to rework


the facts, disguise them so that they are not easily recognized or identifiable in order to raise the material to a level of universality. Still, Oates has in some instances used material from her friends and colleagues lives that has elicited protests and criticism; in some cases she has strained a relationship or even lost a friend in the process. In yet another work focused on an academic community, the short story collection The Hungry Ghosts, based on Windsor University in Canada, where Oates and her husband were teaching at the time, a total of five titles immediately provide, and provoke, us with associations to earlier published works, viz, Democracy in America (Alan de Tocqueville), Pilgrims Progress (John Bunyan), Up from Slavery (Booker T Washington), A Descriptive Catalogue (William Blake) and The Birth of Tragedy (Friedrich Nietzsche). In addition to literary intertexts three of the stories in The Hungry Ghosts are also based on real-life intertexts. The Birth of Tragedy recorded a gay colleagues sexual harassment of a graduate teaching assistant, a topic of gossip for a long time at Windsor University. Pilgrims Progress, an O. Henry award winning story, featured an unflattering portrait, a caricature, of her friend Lois Smedick, who did not appreciate this exposure. Up from Slavery, originally called The Loves of Franklin Ambrose and published in Playboy, depicted the only Black professor in the English department as a womanizer.39 Oates even used very sensitive material from her close friend Gene McNamaras life, a father of five who had been involved in an extramarital affair with a woman who was later murdered. Her husband was in due course convicted of the murder. Oates could not resist this material; it seemed ideal for an Oatesian short story. Under the title Harriet Stillman: A Romance it was published in a Canadian magazine. Oates felt that she had altered enough in the story and that Gene is not in the story at all.40 Yet, McNamara retorted by writing a nasty portrait of Oates in a story called The Art of the Novel. A famous woman writer becomes the scourge of her friends who find themselves distorted into grotesque freaks in her fiction. Also using literary allusion like Oates he invoked Hawthorne and the Salem witch trials where Oates acts like a judge condemning people to a perpetual hell of confinement in her fiction.41 Many people have expressed surprise at being quoted almost verbatum or recognizing certain scenes or facts from their own lives in her fiction.


Betsy Hansell, an artist friend, found her own studio described in detail in the novel Cybele. She could laugh about it, since she had seen through Oatess excuse for inviting herself over. She had come over for tea, but after the inspection of the studio, she did not even stay for a cup of tea! Alicia Ostriker, for instance, had been asked by Oates about her experience of being raped, which she had written about in articles and a poem. Not long afterward a transformed version of the event appeared in an Oates story entitled The Knife.42 In this case Ms Ostriker did not mind, since she felt that the biographical intertext had been disguised. More importantly, she had of course gone public in that she had published her autobiographical version of the event. In Princeton two friends who have an annual party to celebrate the nightblooming cactus cereus, had invited Oates to their yearly event. Not only did Oates use the event as a section heading, Night-Blooming Cereus, in Angel of Light, but her hosts could recognize literally word-by-word exchanges from the party. In fact, another friend has issued the following warning: Shes like a big sponge. Sometimes you have to be careful what you say around her.43 One example in point is her very good friend Dan Brown who took her on a tour of the poor neighborhood in Detroit where he grew up. This became the setting for the community in them. Brown also told his friend about a student of his who had gone into a year-long half-coma after a rape. This was also used as a central motif in the same novel. In 1988 the Princeton English Department was shocked by a scandal of rape and sexual abuse. This time Oates used real events as intertexts to express her disgust over the incident itself as well as the cover-up that followed. Elaine Showalter had given a party for faculty and graduate students in her capacity as director of graduate studies. Thomas McFarland, a world-renowned specialist in Romantic literature, offered a male graduate student a ride home after the party, invited him for a nightcap in his home where the student was abused throughout the night. These events were turned into Nemesis (1990), a novel published under the pseudonym Rosamund Smith. Far more public figures or events have made their way as intertexts into Oatess fiction. Her recent novel Blonde (2000), for instance, is based on Marilyn Monroes life. In an Authors Note she very carefully points out that it is not a biography but a work of fiction, a distilled life of Norma


Jean Baker.44 This also goes for the lives of more ancient personalities of mythological status. The very last story of Marriages and Infidelities entitled Nightmusic (Eine Kleine Nacht Musik) makes use of Mozarts biography for its narrative.45 Told in the first person, it is about the child prodigys trips, fine clothes, compositions and performances. There are two alternative happy endings; the second one fuses the adult interpreter (pianist) with the child composers spirit in a performance a truly spiritual marriage. Snake Eyes (1992), another pseudonymous novel by Rosamond Smith, deals with the famous killer Henry Abbotts and Norman Mailers relationship. Mailer was so impressed by the convicted murderer Abbott, through their correspondence, that he managed to get the prisoner released. Abbott did publish a book about his life, but committed yet another murder and was returned to prison. Oates herself had received letters from a prisoner in the Mid-West, lengthy, raving letters, which she then fictionalized into the long poem Like Walking to the Drugstore, When I Get Out.46 Many years after the actual event Oates used the Chappaquiddick accident for her novella Black Water (1992). The story is told from the victims point of view, minute by minute up to her moment of drowning. It was intentionally so short that it should be read in two hours, precisely the time it took for the secretary left in the car to die after the unnamed drunkenly Senator had crashed the car and left her there. This politically loaded incident had infuriated her on moral grounds: when Ted Kennedy repeatedly refers to the incident as a tragic accident- it was an accident that, while drunk, he drove a car into the water, but it was no accident that he allowed his passenger to drown. Imagine he didnt report the accident for nine hours. Yet he wasnt charged with anything except leaving the scene.47 A well known American mass murderer, Jeffrey Dahmer, was the model for her own novel Zombie (1995) about a killer. Charles Manson, sect leader and murderer, inspired her to write The Triumph of the Spider Monkey (1976). Yet another mass murderer operating in suburban Detroit while Oates was living there appealed to her constant fascination with the criminal mind. A series of brutal child murders had occurred in the spring of 1977. Oates then started the novel Graywolf: Life and Times, naming the murderer Graywolf. This novel is still awaiting publication. There are many instances of newspaper headlines or reports that have provided Oates with an intertext that she has based her own text on. While


going through her manuscripts in the Special Collections at the Syracuse University library, I ran across a brief news item torn out of a newspaper from Kansas City (Jan 5, no year). Man Mutilates Himself was the headline. Graphically and briefly it described how a 26-year-old man had cut out his right eyeball because it contained a Satanic symbol, a pentagram; he had employed a knife to sever the eyeball and had then flushed it down in the toilet. This exact story is used as a base for the rather short story entitled Demon.48 Her perhaps best known short story, which appears in various anthologies, Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? is also a prime example of Oatess multiple interweaving of intertexts. What originally inspired the story was yet another news item, a Life magazine feature on a killer called The Pied Piper of Tuscon. Charles Schmid was an Arizona serial killer specializing in teenage girls. Since he was very short he used to stuff his boots with cans and rags to gain a few inches. He also used make-up. Such piquant details were incorporated into Oatess story. She also linked it to legends and songs about Death and the Maiden, which actually was the original title, evoking a pictorial image of Albrecht Drers woodcut. In addition, while writing it she had been listening to Bob Dylans then popular song Its All Over Now, Baby Blue, which she felt perfectly illustrated the emphasis on teenage culture and the elegiac tone of her own story, thus incorporating yet another intertext. Later on the story was, in fact, dedicated to Bob Dylan.

Autobiographical Intertexts
Although Oates, at times, seems to have overstepped the boundaries of tolerance for using intertextual material from other peoples lives, her greatest source of material, her own person and life, remains constant throughout her career. First of all her impoverished childhood spent on a farm in Millersport, near Buffalo, New York, provided her with an environment that was used for the setting of her earliest books, and which she returns to repeatedly. With Shuddering Fall, her first novel, and A Garden of Earthly Delights were set in Eden County and so were The Assassins, Son of the Morning and most of her early short stories. After her Detroit experience with the urban poor in them, she wrote a series of works inspired by the academic world she was a part of, e g, The Hungry Ghosts, American Appetites, and Nemesis.


Then she returned to Eden County in You Must Remember This, Because It Is Bitter, Because It Is My Heart, Man Crazy, Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang, First Love, and the very autobiographical Marya: A Life. Quite concrete places such as the Tonawanda Creek, The Erie Barge Canal, the Lockport footbridge figure frequently. Since her focus has been on the economically deprived and the psyche of a troubled humanity her microcosmic American Eden is indeed an ironic name. Mythologizing it she sometimes began her stories like Faulkner: Some time ago in Eden County.... One event that definitely shaped her life, and her writing, was a sexual assault, what she later called a semi-molestation, that took place in fourth grade. One morning before school started in the one-room schoolhouse, a group of husky farm boys dragged her in the direction of the boys outhouse. Although she was not raped, but mauled, psychological damage was done.49 Afterwards she was ordered not to tell under threats. This assault reappears throughout her fiction in stories such as Blindfold, The Molesters, and Hostage. In Marya: A Life the scene is repeated at a beach party before Marya goes away to college, but it is impossible to know whether she was in fact raped.50 Oates learned what it was to be a victim, and often shows great sympathy with victims in her fiction. Throughout Oatess literary production there is an entire string of women protagonists who have been exposed to molestation, rape, assault or incest. Karen Herz (caring hurts!) in With Shuddering Fall (1964), Clara Walpole in A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Maureen Wendall in them (1969) who becomes catatonic for a year, Marya Knauer in Marya: A Life (1986), Enid Stevick in You Must Remember This (1987), Marianne Mulvaney in We Were the Mulvaneys (1996), Josie Carolyn (note initials!) in First Love (1996) a very young girl snared and enchanted by her abusive cousin, Ingrid Boone in Man Crazy (1997) who is totally degraded by a sect and motorcycle gang leader. What these women have in common is a will to survive and to bear witness to their painful and horrid experiences. Language, or academic achievement, becomes a means of transcending the past, as it has been for Oates. Marya becomes a scholar. Maureen and Ingrid attend college. Little Josies tormentor returns to the seminar and she can once again enjoy the return of spring. As a consequence of their experiences, some of the above women characters suffer from anorexia. As biographer Greg Johnson has documented Oates also suffers from anorectic impulses coupled to her manic productivity


and extreme exhaustion as well as periods of insomnia.51 She oftentimes finds food boring and time-consuming. Absorbed by her writing she simply forgets to eat. Intellectually she recognizes in her journal that anorexia is a controlled and protracted form of suicide, literally....But there is the appeal of Death. The romantic, wispy, murky, indefinable, incalculable appeal. In yet another journal entry she claims to love to be fatigued, malnourished. 52 These very personal ideas have frequently been transferred onto her heroines. Ilena in The Dead is one such example, as will be demonstrated in chapter three. Marianne, the daughter in We Were the Mulvaneys, is an excellent illustration of many points made above. Not only is the setting of primary importance in this novel. This time Oates depicts a well-to-do farmer and his family in Eden County. At the outset this is a happy family in a lavender farmhouse bustling with life. Yet the expulsion from paradise, the breakdown of this family, is initiated when Marianne is sexually assaulted as a teenager. As a consequence, Marianne suffers from bouts of anorexia, at times starving herself in order to deny both her sexuality and her femininity. Like Oates, Marianne also loves cats. Her favorite cat has the same name as Oatess cat, Muffin. 53 Her parents have been given some traits from Oatess own parents. The name Mulvaney is loosely based on Oatess Irish great-great-grandmother whose name was Mary Mullaney. Mariannes two brothers are also invested with Oatesian character traits. Patrick represents her intellectual, philosophical side. He is an avid reader and an excellent student. As a valedictorian he has to deliver a speech at commencement. So did Oates at Syracuse University. Both dread the event, both manage to avoid it. Oates herself was saved by a thunderstorm at the outdoor ceremony, while her fictional character detonates a stink bomb. The second brother, Judd, represents more of Oatess writerly side. He is a newspaperman who, emotionally detached, is in fact the one who records his family history. Greg Johnson has noted several times in his biography Invisible Writer that Oates does not only invest her female but also her male characters with traits of herself. It is remarkable that she frequently uses her own initials for male characters, as for Judd above. Jerome Corky Corcoran, a kind of American everyman, in What I Lived For also carries her initials and has been referred to by herself as a brother.54 He is as tall as she, i e five foot nine. He suffers from insomnia and never gains weight either. He is a counterpuncher, a boxing term that Oates likes to apply to herself. His


memory is also photographic. Like Oates he has a wish to be invisible; he even has a private secret office. The books he reads are actually titles to be found in Oatess library. With allusions throughout to James Joyces Ulysses, which recorded one day in Dublin to memorialize that city at a particular time in history, Oates is also attempting to depict an American city during a Memorial week-end (Union City is based on Buffalo) at a particular time. Similar to Joyces criticism of Ireland, this novel is indeed a strong indictment of American life with its focus on money, status, sex and materialism.

Generic Intertexts
Titular and auto/biographical intertextuality may seem to focus on mere details, such as words, names, quotes, song lines, paintings, rich enough in their separately provocative associations, but not nearly on the scale of the intertextualization of entire genres. At the beginning of the 80s Oates undertook a gigantic project that involved re-envisioning traditionally American Victorian genres. In Bellefleur (1980) she experiments with the family saga; A Bloodsmore Romance (1982) is a postmodern version of a romance; Mysteries of Winterthurn (1984) is a detective story; and My Heart Laid Bare from 1998 is what she calls a family memoir. Yet another, fifth novel, in the tradition of a Gothic horror novel, entitled The Crosswicks Horror finished in 1981 is still maturing, but will reportedly be published soon. This enormous project, while covering key periods in American history from the 1850s up to the election of Roosevelt in 1932, also permits her to explore endless variations upon these genres. Although each novel does function independently on its own, these novels are simply units in a complex design, thematically linked. Taken together Oatess purpose was to show America as viewed through the prismatic lens of its most popular genres.55 In the following Oates explains her reasons for reenvisioning and intertextualizing these genres:
Why genre, one might ask? Does a serious writer dare concern herself with genre? Why, in imagining a quintet of novels to encompass some eight decades of American history... and to require some 2600 pages of prose why choose such severe restraints, such deliberately confining structures? But the formal discipline of genre that it forces us inevitably to a radical reenvisioning of the craft of fiction was the reason I found the project so intriguing. To choose idiosyn-


cratic but not distracting narrators to recite the histories; to organize the voluminous materials in patterns alien to my customary way of thinking and writing; to see the world in terms of heredity and family destiny and the vicissitudes of Time...; to explore historically authentic crimes against women, children, and the poor; to create, and to identify with, heroes and heroines whose existence would be problematic in the clinical, unkind, and one might almost say, fluorescent-lit atmosphere of present day fiction these factors proved irresistible. 56

For this project on the American family Oates read up on history, fashion, inventions, social customs, and particularly the situation for women, since there is a strong feminist subtext present. Fact and fiction are mixed in a true postmodernist fashion, with elements of parody, satire and magic realism thrown in. The result is an extremely rich text. As one critic puts it: Oates is here reveling in...postmodernist intertextuality. 57 These works are truly cluttered by allusions and intertexts. One striking example are the myriad interwoven references to Louisa May Alcotts Little Women throughout A Bloodsmore Romance which is focused upon the five (not four) Zinn sisters often called little women. 58 In a review of A Bloodsmoor Romance in The New York Times Book Review Diane Johnson finds that the protean Oates is able to assume any stylistic guise and to write about anything. 59 In her project of literary cloning Oates actually outdoes her predecessors who are rarely read any longer. Peter S Prescott also thinks it unlikely that her American models did as well. 60

In this chapter we have moved from general theories of intertextuality to the more specific uses of Oatesean intertextuality. In her extensive use of intertextuality for genre or titles, for instance, she demonstrates how well read she is. Like many other Americans she also brings autobiography into her writing. Wanting to be a part of the literary history of her culture, Oates, along with many other women writers, felt a need to first of all appropriate the male-dominated canon, before being able to find her own autonomous voice as a writer. The revisionary movement in the 70s,


exemplified in the short stories of this study, provided many women writers with a method of approaching the classics. For Oates it was an enjoyable process. In a letter to her friend Liz Graham on Oct 5, 1970 she states that its a lot of fun to reimagine these famous old stories and that she felt quite free to try anything, since it was not a question of anyone writing stories as good as those....61 The chapters to come will show how Oates takes liberties, or should they be called infidelities, even experiments with the form of her masters stories. In the very first one, James Joyces The Dead, the woman writers perspective, as discussed above, will be in focus.


1 2 Gayle Greene, Changing the Story. Feminist Fiction and the Tradition (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991) 6. Thas Morgan, The Space of Intertextuality. In Patrick ODonnell and Robert Con Davis, eds. Intertextuality and Contemporary American Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989) 260. Hlne Cixous, Obsttriques cruelles, paper delivered at Ume University, May 25, 2000. T S Eliot, Tradition and the Individual Talent.In The Norton Anthology, English Literature, Sixth Ed, Vol 2 (New York: Norton, 1993) 2171. First published in The Egoist (1919) then in The Sacred Wood (1920). ibid. 2173-74. Mikhail Bakhtin, Problems of Dostoevskys Poetics, 1963. Transl. R W Rotsel (Ann Arbor: Aradis, 1973). Julia Kristeva, Word, Dialogue, and Novel in Desire in Language, ed. Leon S Roudiez, transl. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine and Leon S Roudiez (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980) 66. ibid. 65. Roland Barthes, The Death of the Author in Image-Music-Text, transl. Richard Haword (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977) 142.

3 4

5 6 7

8 9

10 Margaret Waller, An Interview with Julia Kristeva, transl. Richard Macksey in ODonnell, 281. 11 ibid. 282. 12 Michel Riffaterre, Semiotics of Poetry (1978, Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984) 166. 13 Susan Stanford Friedman, Weavings: Intertextuality and the (Re)Birth of the Author in Clayton 155. 14 Jonathan Culler, The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981). 15 Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (New York: Routledge, 1988) chapter 8. 16 Nancy K Miller, Arachnologies: The Woman, the Text, and the Critics in The Poetics of Gender, ed. Nancy K Miller (New York: Columbia UP, 1986) 52. 17 Pam Morris, Literature and Feminism, An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993) 37. 18 Judith Fetterley, The Resisting Reader. A Feminist Approach to American Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1978) xx. 19 Annette Kolodny, Dancing Through the Minefield. Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism in Showalter 1985: 144-167.


20 Adrienne Rich, When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision in On Lies, Secrets, and Silence. Selected Prose 1966-1978 (New York: Norton, 1979) 39. 21 Sandra M Gilbert, What Do Feminist Critics Want? A Postcard from the Volcano in Showalter 1985, 32. 22 Rich 35. 23 Mary Daly as quoted in Rich, 49. 24 Gilbert 32 and 40. 25 Alicia Ostriker, The Thieves of Language. Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking in Showalter 1985, 331. 26 Elaine Showalter, Sisters Choice. Tradition and Change in American Womens Writing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) 27. 27 Joyce Carol Oates, In Olden Times, When Wishing Was Having...: Classic and Contemporary Fairy Tales in Where Ive Been, And Where Im Going (New York: Penguin, 1999) 16. First it appeared in Kenyon Review, Fall 1997. 28 ibid. 19. 29 Greene 6. 30 Eileen Teper Bender, Joyce Carol Oates: Artist in Residence (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987) ix. 31 Joanne V Creighton, Joyce Carol Oates (Boston: G K Hall, 1979) 9-10. 32 Joyce Carol Oates, The Profane Art (New York: Dutton, 1983) 111. 33 Joyce Carol Oates, By the North Gate (New York: Vanguard, 1963) epigraph. 34 Please see Rose Marie Burwells article Joyce Carol Oates and an Old Master in Critique XV, 1973: 48-70 for an intertextual reading of Hieronymous Boschs painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and Oatess novel by almost the same title. 35 Letter from Oates to Robert Phillips, August 11, 1989 quoted in Greg Johnson 1998: 361. 36 Oatess Princeton colleague Robert Fagles had done a translation of The Oresteia. 37 Stephen Crane, In the desert from The Black Riders and Other Lines, 1895. 38 Saint Augustine, The Confessions, transl. R S Pine-Coffin (Chicago: Great Books of the World, 1992) Book III:1. 39 Greg Johnson, Invisible Writer (New York: Penguin, 1998) 190, 230, 255. 40 Journal entry quoted in Johnson 1998: 256. 41 ibid. 257. 42 Joyce Carol Oates, The Knife in Heat and Other Stories (New York: Penguin, 1991) 24-38. Originally it appeared in Redbook. 43 Henry Bienen quoted in Johnson 1998: 319.


44 Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde (New York: Harper Collins, 2000). 45 Joyce Carol Oates, Nightmusic in Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 410-416. This story first appeared in Mundus Artium, July 1972. 46 Letter from Oates to Richard Howard quoted in Johnson 1998: 379. The poem appeared in the collection entitled Tenderness (1996). 47 Letter from Oates to Greg Johnson quoted in Johnson 1998: 383. 48 Demon and other tales, illust. Jason Eckhardt (West Warwick, R I: Necronomicon Press, 1996) 33-36. 49 Johnson 1998: 30. 50 See my review of Marya: A Life in Moderna Sprk, Vol LXXXI, No 1, 1987: 59-62, 51 Johnson 1998: 174. 52 ibid. 175. 53 Oates has recently published her first childrens book entitled Come Meet Muffin! illust. Mark Graham (Hopewell, N J: Ecco Press, 1998). 54 Johnson 1998: 289. 55 Joyce Carol Oates, Afterword in Mysteries of Winterthurn (New York: The Berkley Pub Co, 1985) 515. 56 ibid. 514-515. 57 Creighton 43. 58 See Elizabeth Lennox Keysers article A Bloodsmore Romance: Joyce Carol Oatess Little Women, Womens Studies, Vol 14, 1988: 211-223 for an intertextual reading of Oates and Alcott. 59 Diane Johnson, Balloons and Abductions, The New York Times Book Review, Sep 5, 1982: 16. 60 Peter S Prescott, Romantic Agony, Newsweek, Sep 20, 1982: 92. 61 Oates quoted in Johnson 1998: 187.



James Joyces The Dead Resurrected and Reimagined by Joyce Carol Oates
Our species finds itself exposed to madness under an empty sky Kristeva

The Dead is the title of two short stories, written 64 years apart. James Joyce wrote his story in 1907 (to be published in 1914) as the epilogue of his collection entitled Dubliners; Joyce Carol Oates first published her story in McCalls in July 1971, reissued a year later as the penultimate story of Marriages and Infidelities. As indicated by the title, death is a leitmotif in both stories, whether it be persons already deceased who intrude upon or live on in the memory of the living; those approaching an imminent death; or those in the midst of their lives but who can be characterized as living dead. Love and the role of marriage is also a subject shared by both stories. Although the plots are seemingly very different, the endings are similar in their use of epiphany. Both writers make use of autobiographical intertextual devices. Besides themes and general structure shared, there are central symbols, repeated words, that provide intertextually connective links across decades, cultures and authors. My intention is to show by close analysis how Joyce Carol Oates interprets and then works with the original text. In fact, she reworks, reimagines, or to use Adrienne Richs term re-visions, Joyces story from a womans point of view. Since intertextual literally means the weaving of parts of one text into another, in this particular case it entails anything from repetition of a single word, or an entire sentence, a direct quotation, or expression, a recycled title, to reusing names, reworking details of the plot, themes or central


symbols. In the Barthesian and Kristevan sense this text is truly a mosaic or tissue of quotations from other texts without quotation marks. My task at hand is to identify these elements, including some pictorial and musical references, as well as biographical elements, that also function intertextually.

James Joyces collection of short stories depicts life in Dublin at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Having covered aspects of childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life, The Dead is appropriately placed as the very last story of the collection. Joyces stated intention was to give [t]he Irish good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass. In a letter to Grant Richards he goes on to state that he wants to write a chapter of the moral history of my country,1 which is very much echoed in Joyce Carol Oatess wish to create a panoramic view of contemporary America.2 Dublin was seen by Joyce as the center of Irish culture at a stage characterized by paralysis. For Oates The United States of the 1960s presents a similar situation. The greatest part of Joyces story is taken up by a Christmas party filled with singing, speeches, quadrilles, and an abundance of food and drink. Yet, this merriment is accompanied by constant references to death. From the outset all guests are met by Lily, whose name signifies a flower commonly used at funerals, who is the caretakers daughter. She appears in the very first mood-setting line of the story. Even if the reader misses this indirect reference, there are others to come. Some persons already deceased are mentioned, e g, Gabriels own mother and the two Patrick Morkans, Michael Furey and Parkinson, the tenor. Several people are close to death, both aunt Julia and aunt Kate, who are hosting the party. At the end Gabriel, their nephew, envisions the former soon to be a shade.3 Certain monks are mentioned who practice sleeping in coffins to remind them of their last end (198). However, the main concern of Joyces story is with those who are alive, yet dead. At first the Conroys, Gabriel and Gretta, who serve as protagonists, are presented as a healthy contrast to the zombies surrounding them, but this turns out to be deceptive. Gabriel himself harbors a wish to escape, to leave Dublin, just as Joyce had done. Several critics have noted this positive


movement to the east and the death-seeking movement west.4 In fact, during lancers there is an argument between Miss Ivors, an Irish nationalist who is suggesting an excursion to the Aran Isles, and Gabriel who would prefer to go to continental Europe. When asked why, he retorts: Im sick of my own country, sick of it! (187). Even his beloved extra-curricular work as a book reviewer for a local paper, which is something Joyce himself had done as well, is criticized by Miss Ivors who calls him a West Briton. The story told about Johnny, the horse that ends up circling a statue in the belief that he is back at the mill, serves to illustrate the paralyzing circular pattern that Joyce felt was a trap for many people. In his dinner speech, initially dwelling on the past and the memory of the dead, Gabriel speaks of living in a sceptical and thought-tormented age (200-201). In one story after another Joyce had traced the decline of the Irish soul. Thus Gabriel in this final story also becomes disillusioned with his country as well as his marriage which turns out to be a lifeless relationship. Joyce Carol Oates also focuses on the theme of death. By reversing the focus of attention, she chooses a woman as her central character, a university professor cum best-seller writer who keeps going on various drugs, which is a constant play with death. If Lily signals death from the outset in Joyce, Oatess opening statement introduces us to a mentally troubled person who is moving toward death. By quoting from the information found on Ilenas pill jars: Useful in acute and chronic depression, where accompanied by anxiety, insomnia, agitation; psychoneurotic states manifested by tension, apprehension, fatigue....(380), the author immediately establishes the predominant mood of her story. Oatess protagonist has also had to make a choice between east and west and compromised by choosing Buffalo rather than either California or New York City as her place of work. In the end she does move to the latter. It is not only her immediate surroundings that are crumbling. Her second-rate Catholic university has appalling standards, for instance, as is shown in an oral exam on literature that Ilena is part of. Not only has the student, a monk, trouble exemplifying tragedy or sonnet, but he fails to define gothicism as well as heroic couplet. Finally Ilena asks him to discuss, or even give the title of any poem, at which point one of the other examiners, a male professor, coaxes the student by incorrectly quoting from Brownings My Last Duchess. At the ensuing discussion Ilena refuses to pass the student, while her male colleagues do so without hesitation. The following


day she is asked to resign. Gabriel Conroy had originally intended to include a quote from Browning in his dinner speech, but had in a similar fashion decided to leave it out, since he felt his audience would not fully grasp its meaning. In a wider scope the snatches of America that we are given indicate a society in decline. Martin Luther King is dead and so is the civil rights movement (403). There are frequent demonstrations, riots, and arrests all around her. In particular Ilena fears sleep, because she often dreams of Kennedys assassination. Pills were one way of escaping dreams: The wonderful thing about the pills was that dreams were not possible. No dreams. The death of dreams. What could be more lovely than a dreamless sleep?(399) For its original publication the story was in fact entitled The Death of Dreams. Is this more of a death wish than a mere avoidance of dreams? According to Gordon Taylor Ilenas gradual loss of self is closely related to her progressive loss of faith in language as a means of communication, even including the symbolic language of dreams.5 As a teacher she is accused by her favorite student of using language to distort. As a writer she begins to doubt her writerly powers. At one point she wishes to remain in a story she was writing, to simply give up and go mad (387). Being sought after as a popular writer, she makes public appearances speaking on anything from the future of civilization, to her writing habits or the future of the short story, issues that Oates herself is often asked about (400-401). But her audience is a blur, a mass of protoplasm, and her constant fear is whether shell make it without vomiting in public. The American story takes place at the time of the Vietnam war. Joyces gay Christmas party is replaced by an American coctail reception in Ilenas honor, at which there is general talk of drugs among Americas young, death, and the senseless war in Vietnam. Vietnam is a shameful tragedy, says one of the guests (404). Ilena hears herself talk of the war: the familiar dead, deadened word Vietnam... (401). She is no less enchanted by her country than Gabriel is with his Ireland. Although she considered her novel Death Dance, a title with Strindbergian echoes, as her weakest novel, it probably owed its success to its very subject. It was a story about a suicide club, an anecdote that she had happened to overhear in a university womens restroom. This story about the alienated youth of America, about drugs, suicide and wasted young lives had made her famous, had sent her on reading tours of the country,


had featured her on the cover of national magazines, and placed her at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for fifteen weeks! Dealing with drugs, sex, death this turns out to be a projection of her own life. In class discussions Ilena took a firm stand not only on birth control, but death control as well, a most daring position for a woman at a Catholic institution. Suicide must be recognized as a natural human right, she had said in class (391). In her shaky drugged state Ilena contemplates suicide when confronting herself in the bathroom mirror, an echo of the mirror scene in Joyce: How about it?...Why not die? (398). One time, as their marriage is disintegrating, her husband Bryan whispers to her: Die. Why dont you die. Die(383). On the very same page her lover, Gordon, begs the very opposite of her: dont die, which illustrates the tug of war going on within Ilena. Just like Gabriel is reminiscing about the dead in his dinner speech, Ilena feels a kinship with certain dead writers, so much that she is writing a series of short stories in their honor. I want to honor the dead by reimagining their works, by reimagining their obsessions... she tells an audience (400). This is of course exactly what Joyce Carol Oates does herself in Marriages and Infidelities. Yet another sign of Ilena being a living dead quickly approaching death is the fact that she suspects that she is sick, possibly sterile. When consulting an internist she is told that she is normal. Staring at the doctor in disbelief, she naturally raises the question of what normalcy entails either for an individual or for entire societies. Her fear of sterility can be seen as a direct link to the paralysis reigning in Joyces Ireland. But it is also an expression of her fear, both as a woman and writer, of being unproductive. Progressively throughout the story Ilena is flirting with death experiencing people and situations around her as blurred, incoherent and distant. By the end of the story Ilena feels as if she is dissolving, fading away, dying, turning into simple protoplasm. At the reception she finds out that a student of hers, who was in love with her, has died of liver failure, being a heroine addict. This memory, akin to Grettas recollection of lost love, propels her into a situation in a hotel room with her former lover Gordon, when she in fact loses control. While the snow keeps falling outside Ilena is finally totally incapable of communication.


Woman and Writer

Ilena is one in a line of many artists as protagonist to appear in fiction written by women during the 1960s and 70s. There are many examples such as Doris Lessings The Golden Notebook (1962), Sylvia Plaths The Bell Jar (1963), Margaret Atwoods Surfacing (1972) and Lady Oracle (1976), or Erica Jongs Fear of Flying (1973). In A New Mythos, Grace Stewarts study of the womans Knstlerroman, she finds that a woman artist is never allowed to forget about her gender in a society which not only automatically labels her but also denigrates the serious artistry of women.6 As the woman artist realizes this she may either reject herself as woman, or welcome deathin-life as preferable.7 Having lost weight steadily for three years, Ilena is showing signs of anorexia, an extreme form of self-punishment coupled with suicidal tendencies. It is no surprise then that Ilena fears sterility, both as woman and artist, that her sense of self as well as her life is at risk. The situation for both women and writers in the 1960s is very much in focus in Oatess version of The Dead. At times it seems as if Ilena is uncomfortable with both her sexual and writerly identity. After the divorce, for example, she feels relief at being virginal again... childlike, an impossible wish to return to the past, to retrieve lost innocence. This also echoes the epigraph, Dylan Thomas On the Marriage of a Virgin, whose bride wakes up to miraculous virginity. Similarly, the cover photo of Ilena on a national magazine made her look like a pre-Raphaelite virgin, emphasizing her beauty in a way never done to male writers (396). Ilenas namesake Helen of Troy was of course known for her extraordinary beauty; she was at times called the worlds most beautiful woman and was courted by innumerable suitors. However, the caption on the cover, under the photo, appears to point to Ilenas dilemma: ARE AMERICAN WOMEN AVENGING CENTURIES OF OPPRESSION? Since her best-selling novel appeared simultaneously with major cover stories on womens liberation, particularly on the achievement of women in so-called maledominated areas such as literature, Ilena inevitably became a darling of the media. On the one hand, she adheres to the old-fashioned ideal of virginal serenity and beauty, while, on the other hand, she gives proof of intellectual and academic accomplishments. In sum, she is the bringer of death and destruction under cover of a madonna-like face.


One way of illustrating this wavering movement between inner and outer qualities, emotional and intellectual pursuits, productivity and sterility, stasis and movement, Oates chooses to break up the linearity of time. Instead she uses a circular structure that permits her to alternate past and present episodes, a method that allows repetition as well as re-vision. Womens quests in literature have traditionally been circular. Cycles and circles remain powerful symbols for womens lives and experiences. Womens time, according to Kristeva, is characterized by cycles, gestation, the eternal recurrence of a biological rhythm.8 In fact, if there is a female form in Western literary representations, it is the circle, Gayle Greene claims. She continues by pointing out that the symbol of the circle is dual, for while it may signify perfection and totality, it may also imply powerlessness, nothingness or blankness.9 For Johnny the horse in Dublin it signified the blinding comfort of habit. This explains why Ilena vacillates between extreme moods of elation and failure. Often she questions her own sanity. When she loses her menstrual periods, yet another womanly cycle, she therefore also loses her normality, her steady rhythm in life. Observing herself from the outside, she feels that she is falling back into a blankness like a white flawless wall, pure material, pure essence..., although at the time she is filled with love for Gordon (389). Ilena ends up in a vicious circle unable to break out of it.10 In many respects Ilenas struggles can be explained through the model of the anxiety of authorship presented by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Since literary tradition is handed down by the stern fathers of patriarchy to aspiring women writers, the anxiety many of them experience is in many ways the germ of a dis-ease...a disaffection, a disturbance, a distrust recognized in much of womens writing.11 The early women writers felt isolated, sick, paralyzed, to the point of madness. This is an equally appropriate description of Ilenas various symptoms. Despite her celebrity, financial success makes her feel ashamed. She is embarrassed at the irony that her weakest novel becomes a best-seller. Her fame, with demands on her for interviews, lectures, trips, teaching etc. feels like a hundred lovers tugging and pulling at her (399). The resulting love-making mirrors her own decreasing ability to respond to the physical love-making of various men. Her face is locked as she says in a perpetual feminine smile. To be in the limelight means that she must be gracious to all, which she classifies as a feminine virtue (399). Elaine Showalter


explains Ilenas trouble as stemming from her guilt about literary creativity.12 Her fame becomes a burden that threatens both her health and marriage. Her celebrity as a writer, (significantly she only publishes under her maiden name), is also seen as a detriment to her marriage, since Bryan has not been equally successful in that area. A psychiatrist friend of hers describes her achievements as unmanning for Bryan, and she is right out advised to fail at something to restore balance (383). Ilena has no women friends, no network to fall back on. Hers is a lonely existence. The women appearing in the story all play marginal roles in society, such as dowdy housewives and hostesses. One of them is compared to a jovial Mrs Santa Claus. There is also the nun who shares an office with her but who is never there, and the cleaning-woman at the university. The men, on the other hand, all hold positions of power, and manage to make her feel guilty for being different, for instance, her editor, her lovers, her husband, father Hoffman, the gynecologist, the psychiatrist. Even her student Emmett, accuses her of playing a womanly trick, a female trick on him in class (386). In other words Ilena lacks women to identify and associate with in daily life as a woman, at the university as a teacher, and perhaps most importantly, literary foremothers are absent in the literary tradition available to her. That is why she, as well as Oates, have undertaken projects to appropriate the male canon.

Love and Marriage

Elena certainly feels that she has failed as a woman in marriage. She has betrayed her husband and caused much pain, as did her namesake Helen of Troy. Her ex-husband has suffered a collapse, and her lover has starved himself, also to the point of collapse. Yet, in an idealistic sense she is a firm believer in the institution of marriage. So is Gabriel Conroy a stable married man of respect in Dublin at the beginning of the last century. As he and Gretta are leaving the party to go to a hotel for the night, he watches her standing at the top of the stairs, where her head is wrapped in shadow. He envisions her as a painting, an inanimate object. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter(207), because Gretta is exactly enchanted by the song she is listening to in the distance, a sad Irish tune, of death and love. Gabriel here sees her as a feminine symbol, an object, without realizing that he is not part of her contemplation.


Gabriel is looking forward to an evening alone with his wife in a hotel. Merely looking at her, [a] sudden tide of joy went leaping out of his heart (209). Walking behind her through the snowy city of Dublin, happy thoughts race through his brain, he feels proud, joyful, tender, valorous. Intimate memories from their long life together burst like stars upon his memory(210). He is looking forward to being alone with her, after they take leave of the other guests. He feels adventurous, having escaped from home, children and duties. When touching her in the hotel room finally, he feels a keen pang of lust (212) and his heart is thumping. The scene is set for romance, but alas, her thoughts are elsewhere, on a lost love, a young man named Michael Furey. The song at the party, The Lass of Aughrim, had reminded her of him. He had died at the age of seventeen, after singing that very song under her window of a cold winter evening. Gretta believes he died for her. Poor Gabriel who has been filled with their joint memories, is shocked to find that his wife is filled with recollections of someone else. This love scene appears rather romantic and old-fashioned when compared to Ilenas wild and hectic love life in America during the 1960s, when the institution of marriage was challenged by ideas of open marriage and freer sexual relationships. When married to Bryan she has an extended love affair with a man named Gordon. They just about ruin both their marriages. She leaves Gordon for yet another lover, Lyle, and divorces her husband. But by that time she felt nothing except a clumsy domestic affection: no physical love at all (396). At the age of 29 she has lost her erotic interest in men, out of a kind of chaste boredom (400). Ilena, artist and woman, is unable at this point to separate her dual roles. She had indeed experienced love for both Bryan and Gordon. With Lyle she merely feels exhausted, her body is worn out, dead, probably due to her heavy use of drugs and the commercial exploitation of her (396). Yet marriage is sacred to Ilena, as it apparently was to Gabriel: Marriage was the deepest, most mysterious, most profound exploration open to man: she had always believed that, and she believed it now. She realizes that she has failed miserably in this area, and she feels that she deserves whatever she gets. Still, she endorses marriage, [t]his plunging into anothers soul, this pressure of bodies together, so brutally intimate... since that is the closest we can come to a sacred adventure (397-398). These very words seem to echo ideas expressed in The Sacred Marriage.


Oatess own words are similarly echoed by Ilena when the latter is discussing her work in progress, the short stories in honor of old masters. She compares her work to a marriage: writing this series of stories is akin to a woman joining a man spiritually and erotically (400). To carry out her marital project Oates has thus selected only male writers for Marriages and Infidelities. Ilena also wishes to honor the dead, while she is seeking to join literary tradition as a completion, the end of something, not the best part of it, but only the end. Saying this she expresses doubts whether this is true or mere nonsense. I take it that she, and Oates as well, feel a need to not so much end the tradition as completing it in the sense of adding a missing part, i e, the feminist aspect. After all, any marriage in the traditional sense will require a male and female component. However, as Elaine Showalter points out, any such literary marriage would never be just a spiritual loving union, but will naturally include infidelity due to the historical perspective of growing up female and encountering literary history as the other, as the despised.13 Since Ilena has very little of female history or tradition to bring to the marriages she contracts, she will succumb; the story will end in stasis. At the reception in her honor, which precipitates the end, Ilena hears of her former student, Emmett Norlans, death. Just like Gretta her mind begins to wander, is filled with memories of the past. Ilena also focuses on a work of art, as did Gabriel, when unexpectedly meeting Gordon, her old lover, again at the party. She then sees the two embracing lovers of a Chagall lithograph, Summer Night, flying up in the air with a nightmarish dream coming out of their heads. Love for Ilena is no longer only a positive force. Her old fear of dreams, here reinforced by nightmares, will hasten the end. Like Gabriel watching his wife, Ilena at first desperately clinging to a straw, also feels inspired meeting her former lover. They also decide to go to a hotel room. There she can feel her body warming up to him (407). But as they get into bed her head is swooning, in her drugged state. She ends up crying uncontrollably. The bed appears to be crowded with people. She is mixing up her various lovers with the gynecologist. In a blur she experiences how all the people in her bed are dissolving, losing their identities: They were protoplasm that had the sticky pale formlessness of semen. They were all turning into each other...(409). This is Oatess modern version of the Joycean epiphany.


The man on her mind is not Gordon who is there with her but, as was the case with Gretta, her old, but dead, student Emmett who she realizes had had a crush on her. Deep inside her a dull, dim lust began for Emmett (408). She is giving expression to similar lustful feelings, provoked by memories, as Gabriel Conroy experienced when walking to the hotel. He associates to the tender fire of stars (211), while Ilena sees a molten star surrounded by various planets on their axes. Her celestial image, however, is ruined when the planets accelerate, begin to wobble and actually threaten to explode. All this very aptly illustrates how her own lifes pace has increased to the point of no return, when she will eventually lose control. Dead loves surface to mingle with the living. An unrequited love reemerges to influence those who are living here and now in both stories. Having been brought up as a Catholic, Ilena shared with Gabriel Conroy her basically positive attitude to marriage. However, in recollections from childhood we learn that she feared men as well as marriage and resented being urged into marrying. During the 60s, characterized by liberal attitudes vis-a-vis sex as well as drugs, Ilena had apparently overcome her sexual fears to judge by her wild and destructive way of living. Taking on new lovers was simply like shaking hands at a party for her (390). Just as Gabriel has a feeling of ongoing decay, morally and spiritually on a personal as well as a national scale, Ilena echoes this sense of loss and despair. She is gradually losing control of her body, and her mind is dissolving. Her sanity is at risk, she feels prehistoric (390). Although outwardly she seems to manage, she is aware that she is like a rose of rot with only a short while left to bloom, carrying the rot neatly hidden, deeply hidden(389). She is betraying herself and her husband, wasting her life.14 She knows that both she and her husband must change their lives, yet inertia prevailed and nothing happened (390). What prevented her from going mad was in fact her work; through art she has survived against all odds (387). Gabriel also feels that he has failed. First he fails in his brief encounter with Lily. Then he envisions failing in his dinner speech, even before delivering it. When seeing his dead mothers photograph he recollects her sullen opposition to his marriage (184). Gretta had been criticized for being country cute, just as Joyces wife Nora was considered inappropriate by many as a wife for him. Finally Gabriel realizes the failure of his marriage, seeing himself as a ludicrous figure, a pitiable fatuous fellow (216-17).


How poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life (218-19), he thinks as he is watching Gretta sleep. At that point he feels as if they had never even lived as man and wife.

Epiphanal Endings
James Joyces story The Dead is a perfect illustration of the authors specific aesthetic theory of the epiphany. In Stephen Hero Joyce states that an epiphany meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phrase of the mind.15 In a single moment, a vision or revelation, the reader or the writer gains insight into the lives of the characters. The epiphany thus serves as a key to explain previous events leading up to this particular moment. Although focus is centered on an individual, conclusions can be broadened to encompass all of Ireland, or the US as may be the case, even all of mankind. Both Gabriel and Ilena are drawn to death, that otherness, throughout the stories. At the end Gabriel thinks: Better pass boldly into that other world...(219). Calmly, with tears in his eyes he senses that his soul is approaching that region where dwell the vast hosts of the dead (220). His personality is fading out into a grey impalpable world.... The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward(220). Both Gabriel and Ilena are alone, in spite of their lovers presence. They can no longer communicate. Oatess story ends with Ilena being unable to answer. Love or marriage, which they both have held in high esteem, is no longer a viable aspect of life for either one. Critics disagree on how to interpret the ending of Joyces The Dead. Beck calls it a story of growth, since Gabriel gains access to a vision of how life is disorderly, basically tragic, in moving from the particular to the universal.16 Others see it as a movement from resignation to sleep, and by extension of meaning, death.17 Richard Ellmann calls Gabriels submission mutuality, the need for all men to interact, to warrant...sympathy.18 What is of interest here is naturally the dialog between the two texts, how Oates interprets the end and more specifically what elements Oates uses intertextually. She places Ilena in a physically similar situation: a hotel room for a love rendezvous with no lights on and snow falling outside; the psychological premises are similar, i e, the breakdown of contact and warmth between two lovers, the interference of the memory of a dead


love, a feeling of disintegration on a personal level, a movement into another dimension, possibly death. Oates recycles some significant key words from Joyce that underscore the general feeling of dissolution and termination. Fading, dissolving are repeated as Ilena believes she is disintegrating into protoplasm and Gabriel is questioning his identity (Oates 409 and Joyce 220). Ilena tries to focus on an important truth, but fails. While her brain swoons, his soul also swoons. Both are crying in bed incommunicado with their partners. Ilena experiences an oxymoronic elation of fatigue, perhaps a sign of relief that her untenable situation is finally coming to a head. Both protagonists turn, from their dark rooms, to the light coming in from the window only to realize that snow is falling, equally enshrouding not only them but all living and all dead. The outer frozen, sterile landscape mirrors the protagonists inner barrenness.

Yet another way of emphasizing the dichotomies of life/death, love/ indifference, hot/cold is the intertextual use of symbols. Since James Joyce makes nineteen references to the snow falling over Dublin, there is no doubt about the symbolic value of snow in The Dead. From the moment Gabriel arrives at the party with a snow-covered overcoat and goloshes with white toecaps, Joyce uses the snow to build up an atmosphere that is naturally tied in with the theme of paralysis. Gradually everything, statues, people, animals and graves, is covered by the white, cold substance. By repetition the phrase snow was general all over Ireland assumes symbolic value. The final sentence lyrically tells of the ineffable sound of falling snow: he heard the snow falling faintly, through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead. At the end of Oatess story the snow is falling shapelessly upon them all. There is also an audible association to the snow the gentle breathing of the snow. For Ilena snow may also signify cocaine, a suicidal way of withdrawing from society. Oates does not use the symbol of snow to build atmosphere. There is only one other reference to snow when Ilena meets her old lover Gordon again in Detroit. Then his coat has flakes of snow on the shoulders reminiscent of Gabriels entry in The Dead (404).


The many references to arteries and veins stand out as sharp contrasts to the cold snow references. In Joyce it is mainly Gabriel whose joy, lust and tender feelings rush through his veins when he recalls intimate moments with Gretta. As they walk to the hotel his blood is racing along his veins in anticipation. After his wife breaks down crying dull fires of his lust began to glow angrily in his veins, a reflection of his own state of mind (215). Oates also invokes references to veins as symbols of warmth. Ilenas memories of Gordon and their passion make her recall the very radiators, conductors of heat, at their university that were like colossal arteries, like her thudding arteries, overwhelmed with life(401). A later memory of their intimacy makes her think nostalgically of how their blood had freely been flowing from the veins of one to the veins of the other, even on the coldest of days they had been blood-warmed, love-warmed (405). In the final epiphanal scene, however, Ilena is no longer capable of intimate communion with Gordon, or anyone else for that matter. Then identities from various people flow from vein to vein suggesting loss and dissolution, how the warmth of human love has been in vain.

Autobiographical Elements
It has been said of Gabriel Conroy that he represents what Joyce might have been, had he stayed in Ireland.19 I doubt the same would have been true of Joyce Carol Oates if she had stayed in Detroit, although she admits in an interview that Ilena is an alternate self, a way I could have gone.20 At the time Oates had suffered from various symptoms, such as insomnia, stress and strange sensations in her head. Her fears of a mental breakdown, transferred to a young male addict, are described in the story Plot, also included in Marriages and Infidelities. One of her doctors prescribed her heavy doses of barbiturates which she took for months, but since she had trouble staying awake and she realized that the pills were dangerous, she decided to flush them down the toilet. In her journal she noted: If drugs or alcohol damage sleep, thereby damaging dreams they guide the helpless individual toward death toward his own suicide.21 Oates survived by dealing directly with her difficulties and by writing about them. Ilena in The Dead did not. There are in fact many similarities between the fictional Ilena and Oates herself. In a letter to her friend and fellow writer Gail Godwin, Oates declares


that The Dead had some authentic details and some invented ones.22 In another letter to Godwin Oates describes a visit to New York in 1969 for a Vogue photo session for a cover story, when as usual in NY she began to have violent stomach aches, apocalyptic seizures, and how she tried to vomit in the ladies room, all reminiscent of Ilenas behavior at various functions.23 The facts that they are both professors of literature and successful writers who have lived in Detroit belong among the authentic details. Both have Catholic backgrounds. Both are sought after for talks, interviews and readings. Their physical resemblance is striking: petite and with unnaturally large eyes (401).24 Their obsessive way of working appears to be astonishingly similar.25 Perhaps most importantly, they share views on literary marriages; both are writing a series of short stories in honor of dead masters. In fact, James Joyce is mentioned by name in Oatess story as an example of a twentieth-century writer in the oral examination scene, yet another example of interweaving (392). As is well known James Joyce also made use of facts from his and his familys life in The Dead. The original story was conceived of by John Kells Ingram and was then called The Memory of the Dead. The name Gabriel Conroy was taken from Bret Hart, and so was the snow imagery.26 Other names were taken from real life: the aunts had names from Joyces own aunts;27 Michael (Bodkin) was indeed the name of Nora Joyces former lover; Joyce even went on a bicycle tour to visit his grave. Nora had served as the model for Gretta, as evidenced in a letter Joyce addressed to Nora: Do you remember the three adjectives I have used in The Dead in speaking of your body. They are these: musical and strange and perfumed. In that same letter he admits that his jealousy of Michael Bodkin, after many years, is still smouldering.28 It was Noras mother who had taught Joyce The Lass of Aughrim, the song that plays such a central role.29 Joyce, as we know, also longed to escape from Ireland to continental Europe as did Gabriel. The effect of using biographical or autobiographical details as both Joyce and Oates do is to weave an even tighter net into the text. This is also done in real marriages where man and wife bring various luggage into the new home from their former lives and families. Frequently family names are recycled, beloved anecdotes are kept alive, perhaps slightly altered, by each new generation. Oates has in her reenvisioned story embraced Joyces


technique of using biographical material. However, in her version of The Dead only autobiographical details verifiable from her own life seem to be employed.

Basically Joyce Carol Oatess story The Dead echoes James Joyces story by the same name in the intertextual use of structure, theme, symbols and other details. Oates transposes the story from the paralytic city of Dublin at the turn of the century to an American society in decline during the 1960s. However, personal failure and disintegration take precedence over social decay, since Oates has also adopted Joyces way of incorporating autobio-graphical details. One of Oatess major changes is the fact that she focuses on a woman protagonist, a writing artist very much in the tradition of the Knstlerroman so prevalent in the 1960s and 70s. It turns out that through her art Ilena has managed to keep going until a lost love, long dead, appears on the scene to intrude, as happens in Joyce as well. Reminiscent of Ibsenian Ghosts these young, deceased, men come to stand for a passion and commitment superior to what anyone among the living is capable of, thus putting them all to shame.30 That is what both protagonists realize in the final epiphanal scenes in their dark hotel rooms, as the snow is falling all around them, pointing to complete silence, solitude, cold, resignation, i e, death. The Oates story further develops, and draws to an extreme, what is merely implied in Joyces original version. In The Dead she has created one of her finest and most complex portraits of a woman intellectual, an artist and academic. Unable to cope with all aspects of life, all pressures exerted upon her as woman and artist, suffering from constant insomnia and anorexia, escaping into massive drug-abuse, she is gradually disintegrating before our eyes. Oates breaks up linear chronological time to reflect her protagonists state of mind, something we will reencounter in some of the other stories included in this study. Sustained by her devotion to art, and drugs, she survives for yet another period of time, only to realize that fame and success, such basic ingredients of the American Dream, will not help her. At the very end she can no longer sustain meaningful contact with other human beings. Failure to communicate is fatal for anyone, but especially for a writer. Ilenas state of mind certainly also mirrors the general breakdown of traditional values and morals in the 1960s.


Oatess resurrection of Joyces The Dead is in many aspects a marriage to the old master. Yet, in focusing on a woman artist who is displaying all possible signs of sickness in dealing with such patriarchal institutions as marriage, the university, and even the literary world, Oatess reimagined story brings us even closer to complete stasis. In her marriage to James Joyce, as Elaine Showalter in a clever pun on names puts it, she becomes Joyce Carol Joyce, Joyce squared and doubly herself.31 This means that Oatess starting point is Joyces story, but that she turns it into a story very much of her own from a gendered and autobiographical point of view. She weaves a truly rich web with not only the many layers from Joyces story, but also with some echoes of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chagall, and Browning.


1 2 3 James Joyce, Letters of James Joyce, Vol II, ed. Richard Ellman N (London: Faber and Faber, 1966) 134. Leif Sjberg, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, 106. From Contemporary Literature, Summer 1982. James Joyce, Dubliners (1914; Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1961) 219. All future references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text. See Peter K Garret, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Dubliners (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968) 14; or Brewster Ghiselin, The Unity of Dubliners, Accent 16 (1956): 208-213. Gordon O Taylor, Joyce after Joyce: Oatess The Dead, The Southern Review 19.3 (1983): 600. Grace Stewart, A New Mythos, The Novel of The Artist As Heroine 1877-1977 (Montral: Eden Press, 1981) 180. ibid. Julia Kristeva. Womans Time, Signs 7, No 1 (Autumn 1981): 16. Gayle Greene, Changing the Story. Feminist Fiction and the Tradition (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991) 14-16.

5 6 7 8 9

10 Hlne Cixous also speaks of a vicious circle created by restrictions imposed upon women who end up wandering in circles, in restricted spaces. By writing women can [b]reak out of the circles. The Laugh of the Medusa, transl. Keith and Paula Cohen, Signs 1.4 (1976): 892. 11 Sandra M Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale UP, 1984) 50-59. 12 Elaine Showalter, Joyce Carol Oatess The Dead and Feminist Criticism. In Faith of a (Woman) Writer, eds. Alice Kessler-Harris and William McBrien (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1988) 16.
claims that while Gabriel experiences a slow process of decay in 14 Visnja Sepcic all the senses of the word, Ilena has a sharp sense of self-betrayal, of the reckless squandering of her gifts and her life. This general destruction I hasten to add does not only concern her, but everyone and everything around her. Joyce Carol Oatess Remaking of Classic Stories, New Trends in English and American Studies, eds. Marta Gibinska and Zygmunt Mazur (Krakow: Jagiellonian UP, 1991) 226.

15 James Joyce, Stephen Hero, ed. Theodore Spencer (Norfolk: New Directions, 1963) 211. 16 Warren Beck, Joyces Dubliners, Substance, Vision, and Art (Durham, N C: Duke UP, 1969) 356-357.


13 ibid. 18.

227. 17 Sepcic

18 Richard Ellmann, James Joyce (New York: Oxford UP, 1982) 261. 19 Beck 311. 20 Walter Clemons, Joyce Carol Oates: Love and Violence, Newsweek 11 December 1972: 36. 21 From Oatess journal (Dec 2, 1974) as quoted in Greg Johnsons biography Invisible Writer (New York: Penguin, 1998) 193. 22 ibid. 23 ibid. 192. 24 For details of appearance see interviews with John Avant (29); Samuel Clemons (1969: 4 or 1972: 32); Paul Zimmerman (14); Judith Applebaum (59). 25 For work habits see interviews with Leif Sjberg (105) or Paul Zimmerman (15). 26 Gerhard Friedrich, Bret Harte as a Source for James Joyces The Dead, Philological Quarterly 33 (Oct, 1954): 443. 27 Beck 309-310. 28 James Joyces Letters II, 239. 29 Robert Scholes, Some Observations on the Text of Dubliners: The Dead, Studies in Bibliography 15 (1962): 195. 30 After seeing Ghosts in 1934 Joyce wrote a quasi-comic poem entitled Epilogue to Ibsens Ghosts containing autobiographical echoes on the theme of paternity guilt and having one healthy and one sick child. Ellmann 669-670. 31 Elaine Showalter, Sisters Choice. Tradition and Change in American Womens Writing (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991) 19.


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Useless as Moths Wings Oatess Revision of Chekhovs The Lady with the Pet Dog
It might be argued that nearly every work of fiction is about love, and loves secrets Oates 1

In the fall of 1970 when Oates was busy revising her novel Wonderland, teaching a course entitled Natural and Unnatural Man at Windsor University (Canada), preparing The Wheel of Love, a short story collection, for publication, she had already completed four of her reimagined stories. Although her revised version of Chekhovs The Lady with the Pet Dog was not published until the spring of 1972 in The Partisan Review it had consequently been written before autumn 1970. Even in 1965 Oates had included Chekhov on the syllabus of a course on great Continental writers together with Kafka, Stendhal, Dostoevsky and Mann, which clearly demonstrates his undisputed place among the classics. Oates frequently refers to Chekhov as one of the old masters that have formed the literary tradition which she is in the process of continuing. In fact, she states that the marvelous modern tradition of the (short) story... begins with Chekhov, Joyce, Conrad, and James; three of these masters are under scrutiny in the present study.2 There is general agreement on Chekhovs influence upon the development of the modern short story. He more or less revolutionized the art form, introducing a new style that strongly points forward to both James Joyce, in his use of epiphany, and to Ernest Hemingways iceberg technique.3 In this chapter I will discuss Chekhovs legacy as far as the general development of the short story is concerned with particular references to Oates. Since she frequently treats the topic of love in her writing and


obviously could not resist or bypass The Lady with the Pet Dog, a costly pearl as it has been called among Chekhovs many love stories, this chapter will begin with a survey of how Oates treats the topic of love, before pursuing a close analysis of the two stories by the same name.4

The Topic of Love

For her very first novel With Shuddering Fall published in 1964, Oates chose a quote from Nietsche as her epigraph: What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil. It is significant that she focused on the topic of love from the very beginning of her writing career. Since that time she has examined the subject from various points of view, such as love for children or family, marital love and infidelity, illicit love, homosexual love, unrequited love, teenage initiation, neighborly love, or friendship. In an early study of Oatess short stories Torborg Norman simply finds that the relationship between men and women is at the center of the majority of Oatess stories....5 In a more recent study of Oatess short fiction, Greg Johnson makes the more specific observation that her earliest stories view love as a violent force through which individuals strive for power and ironically reinforce their own isolation.6 Typical for Oates is the fact that first she always firmly anchors her characters, whatever the topic at hand, in a concrete and realistic social setting, thus creating a backdrop, before zeroing in on the emotional experiences or crises that her characters undergo. If the very titles are indicative of a writers interest in a certain topic, then the following Oates titles will support that theory: The Wheel of Love (1970) whose very last story uses the provocative question What is the Connection Between Men and Women? as its title, Marriages and Infidelities (1972), The Seduction and Other Stories (1975), Will You Always Love Me? (1996), A Sentimental Education (1980), The Collector of Hearts (1999). These quoted titles are all short story collections. But also novels treat this topic, although their titles do not necessarily immediately reveal the contents. A lengthy work such as a novel cannot merely focus on one topic but will naturally include and interrelate a myriad of topics. Although American Appetites (1989), for instance, focuses on a middle-aged couples marriage, the central event is the death of the wife. Was it an accident? Or did he push her through the french window? Was he having an affair with


a younger woman? In You Must Remember This (1987), the love affair between an uncle, a boxer, and his much younger niece, may be viewed as the focal point, but the novel also examines his own marriage, as well as other relationships within this extended family during the 1950s. Two novellas by Oates can also claim to specifically treat a love theme. I Lock My Door Upon Myself (1990) is set in Eden county in the 1890s. Calla leads un unfulfilled life married to a farmer, until she falls in love with an itinerant water diviner, a black man. Here love leads to death (for the man) or death in life (for the woman). In Black Water from 1992 the woman pays with her life for love. In this novella Oates retells, in a sense of moral outrage and from the womans point of view, the Chappaquiddick incident, when Senator Ted Kennedy drove a car into the water and left his passenger to die there. While dying in the car, she tells us of her love affair with the (nameless) senator, as her lover is simply called. True to the tradition of the roman cl this novella is full of political implications, as I Lock My Door Upon Myself is steeped in the social climate at the turn of the century. In a third novella, First Love (1996), we return once again to her childhoods landscape in Eden county. Josie Carolyn, yet another permutation of her own name, is on the borderline between child and womanhood, when her much older cousin Jared introduces her into his own tormented world of religious fervor and sexual obsessions. With hints of incest, but no clear evidence thereof, Oates explores the twisted relationship between abuser and victim, and a young girls tangled feelings of love and fear. In a way Josie is fascinated by her own degradation. According to Oates she believes theres a strong element of masochism in most women and that sometimes both men and women will participate in their own victimization.7 First Love thus represents two frequent themes in Oates: teenage initiation and perplexing and problematic love. As illustrated above Oates has always paid particular attention to the lives of women. According to Virginia Woolf women in fiction have traditionally been shown in relation to men as she demonstrates in A Room of Ones Own. As Elaine Showalter claims [t]he continuing validity of this observation is confirmed by most fiction, even by women, through 1990. However, Oates has made a concerted effort, in pioneering works, as Showalter prefers to term them, to rather define her females in relation to their social or historical context, or simply to their work.8 Marya: A Life


from 1986, a strongly autobigraphical work, and Solstice from 1985, about the friendship and love of two professional women, are two representative stories in point. Due to the genres inherent brevity, it is necessary and thus easier, in short stories to concentrate on a central topic. Such titles as One Flesh, The Abduction, Adultress (The Assignation 1988); The Lover (Nightside 1977); What Death with Love Should Have to Do (Upon the Sweeping Flood 1966) and Love and Death, Normal Love, Loving/Losing/Loving a Man (Marriages and Infidelities 1972) certainly give us direct associations to the topic of love. Whereas the title Golden Gloves(Ravens Wing 1986) immediately indicates another of Oatess favorite topics, viz. boxing, that central theme is also closely tied in with an examination of the young boxers marriage and the relationship to his own family and childhood, all brought about by the imminent birth of his first child. In one case Oates has produced a series of stories about a marital relationship included in a collection of stories entitled Crossing the Border from 1976. These seven stories about Rene and Evan Maynard, who have left the US during the Vietnam war period for a new life in Canada, as did Oates and her husband around that time, are interspersed among the remaining eight stories. The Maynards experience a state of limbo in exile. In different ways they both experience displacement and loss of identity. Their marriage is also tested by infidelity, but literally weathers the storm and they find a way back to each other.9 Oatess recent collection of short stories aptly entitled Will You Always Love Me? (1996) features a few stories characterized by a mature, warm love. In The Handclasp, a middle-aged university teacher feels guilty because she refuses to write a hypothetical affadavit for an insurance company about a deceased students potential as a writer. The story is also about her childless marriage to Mark who knows her frighteningly well. After an attempted suicide, the story ends with a heartfelt handclasp symbolizing their strong feelings for each other. The Track from the same collection also ends with the clasping of hands. Yet another middle-aged, also childless, but rich upper-class couple experience a close encounter with death after which they affirm their love. Having bought a race horse, they make an outing to the race track to pay a visit. While taking a ride in the sulky around the track, the husband takes ill; he experiences a mild heart-attack. Recovering in their expensive Mercedes,


McCullen and Lydia also touch hands to express their gratitude and relief.10 This story, it turns out, is based on a personal experience, an extremely intense personal experience, as Oates calls it. Apparently she and her husband had felt close to being killed that time at the race track: if I reread the story, I begin to feel apprehension at about the same place each time, just as I did that autumn afternoon....11

Chekhovs Legacy
Towards the end of the 19th century, Chekhov was certainly aware of the reigning literary conventions, e g, stock characters, with fixed epithets, predictable plots and closures, familiar settings and standard plots. As Eudora Welty puts it: Chekhov removed formal plot and replaced it by a new structure based on the principle of growth.12 Originally Chekhov was placed within the realistic tradition, since his stories are steeped in the details of everyday life; each story can be seen as une tranche de vie, a slice of life. More recently Eileen Baldeshwiler places Chekhov in the tradition of what she calls the lyric story, as opposed to the more conventional, realistic, epical story.13 Mathewson for his part prefers to label Chekhovs narratives the casual telling of a nuclear experience in an ordinarly life, a description which might equally well suit Oatess short stories.14 Chekhov, who is a master at the description of relationships, places major emphasis on the inner state of his characters. They are not fixed, but carry a potential for development, as I suppose Welty sees it. But will they fulfill that dormant possibility? This is what Durkin calls stories of discovery, i e, the character goes through a process whereby he gains insight into his life situation.15 Concomitant to this is what Lindheim designates as Chekhovs shell theme, a strong feeling of entrapment, also later to reemerge as the Joycean theme of paralysis, for instance, or in Kafkaesque nightmares.16 This process involves a certain loss of identity, but may also lead to recovery of identity. Conrad Aiken considered Chekhov to be [p]ossibly the greatest writer of the short story who has ever lived.17 Aiken was perhaps the very first critic to recognize Chekhovs technique of conveying atmosphere through character, thus anticipating Lukcs belief in the short story as the most purely artistic form, since it expresses the ultimate meaning of all artistic creation as mood.18


Since the turn of the 20th century, Chekhov has dominated short fiction. His conception of the short story with less emphasis on plot, less fully developed realistic characters and major focus on mood conveyed through character has, without doubt, been an influence upon all practitioners of the genre during this century. Most immediately his work had an impact on James Joyce, Sherwood Anderson, Franz Kafka and Katherine Mansfield who, in their turn, have influenced such writers as Ernest Hemingway, Grace Paley, Katherine Anne Porter, Bernard Malamud, Raymond Carver, Flannery OConnor and here Joyce Carol Oates should indisputably be included as well. Both Carver and Chekhov have for instance been accused of being cold and unfeeling writers. Carver explains their similarity when writing of the simple clarity, the hint of revelation and the sense of mystery that had struck him in a mere fragment of a sentence in a Chekhovian story.19 These are of course elements frequently found in Oates, that would also attract Oates to Chekhovs writing. Oates openly acknowledges her debt to Chekhov. Her revision of one of his best known stories was consequently done to honor the master. Once when comparing Beckett and Chekhov, she stated that the major difference lies in the degree of formalization, of externalization, of an interior vision. While Becketts work concentrates solely on language, on so primary a level, Chekhov allows his fantasy more room, more time, chooses images in the real, historical world to illustrate his fantasy... thus creating an art that is far more engaging than Becketts which she finds deathly and boring.20 From these remarks the conclusion can be drawn that Oates particularly appreciates those stylistic devices that Chekhov has contributed to the development of the short story. When Eudora Welty speaks of Chekhov, the grandson of a serf, who dared to make himself free to enter the body, spirit, mind and heart of a character...,21 this appears to be directly echoed in Oatess frequent statements on her ability to enter into other peoples lives, through fantasy, daydreams, or simply provoked by something as mundane as a newspaper article. Her daydreaming is also coupled to a compulsion to draw faces, which is quite evident on her manuscripts in the archives at Syracuse University. She estimates that she has drawn several million faces in [her] life, and is doomed to carry this peculiar habit with [her] to the grave.22 If anyone were to count the number of literary characters created by Oates so far, she


might even outdo Chekhov whose portrait gallery, according to one critic, amounts to a whole small town,i e, 8000! Both writers people their literary works with characters from all walks of life, rich and poor, countryfolk and city professionals, old and young, the intelligentia, the dispossessed, and particularly children. Due to their shared fascination with the inner lives of their characters, the following statement might be ascribed to either one of them: In my head I have a whole army of people asking to be let out and waiting for my orders.23 Yet another aspect that must have attracted Oates to Chekhovs The Lady with a Pet Dog, would be the open closure. Once in giving advice to a young writer Chekhov expressed the opinion that in the short story it is better to say not enough than to say too much.... He preferred to leave it up to the reader to fill in the missing parts of the story.24 There is frequently an air of mystery in Oatess stories as well; the reader is unsure of the exact outcome of events. Thus, Chekhovs undetermined ending has been retained by Oates who has the lover ask two open-ended questions to which the woman protagonist ambiguously answers Yes. While, on the one hand, Oates praises Chekhov for his contribution to the short story, she can, on the other hand, at the same time clearly see the limits of Chekhovs stories: Any story of Chekhovs is its meaning. It is an experience, an emotional event, usually of great beauty and occasionally of great ugliness, but it is pure in itself, needing no interpretation. Speaking in particular of The Lady with the Pet Dog, she considers it as a typical Chekhov story which
tells of a hopeless love affair between a very experienced man and an inexperienced woman, the wife of a dull, well-to-do man. They meet, they fall in love, they continue to meet...she weeps, he is helpless, they cannot marry because of their families, their social obligations, etc. That is all the story means. Chekhov gives us a sense of their dilemma, an unforgettable sense of their anguish, and the story need have no meaning beyond that.... They are ordinary people trapped in an extraordinary situation.25

Oatess reasons for writing her own version of Chekhovs short story The Lady with the Pet Dog are twofold. First, it is a classic rendition on the topic of love, a topic close to her heart; second, it is the kind of story that possesses a great potential for development. In this chapter I will investigate


what intertextual elements Oates elects to retain from the original story, and how she then develops it into a story of her own.

Oatess Transformation of The Lady with a Pet Dog

Basically Oates has retained the main plot, characters, even their names and ages, rendezvous places, the females feelings of shame, and the openended finale. As a consequence, this story, compared to the other stories in my study, is definitely the one that stays closest to the original. Elaine Showalter terms it a gentle and honoring....interrogation of the original.26 Katherine Bastian calls it the least autonomous, least Oatesian, of her reimaginings....essentially identical to Chekhovs model.27 Joanne Creighton finds the story less imagined than transposed, less an original creation than an exercise.28 Matthew Brennan also notes the number of retained elements from Chekhov, but begs to differ with Creighton, finding that it is so much more than mere excercise.29 In this chapter I intend not only to show how Oates interprets the original by certainly retaining numerous details, but also how at the same time she refocuses, changes and expands her revised tale into an autonomous story. First of all Oates transposes the story to an American twentieth-century setting. Telephones, cars, airplanes, gas stations, a Howard Johnson parking lot are added in a natural way. Still the man and woman, both married to others, meet at a holiday resort. Chekhovs Yalta on the Crimea has been exchanged for Nantucket, an island off the coast of Massachussetts, both popular for seaside vacations. Both couples first meet in public places, on the beach, or in a restaurant as is the case in Chekhov. Later rendezvous, as they become more clandestine, take place indoors in the winter time, in a concert hall or theater, and finally in various hotel rooms, retaining Chekhovs symbol of enclosure and entrapment. Both female protagonists are named Anna. Both men are approximately 40 years old, as was Chekhov at the time of writing his story, while Oates was in her early 30s. His protagonists name is Gurov, while Oates never even provides a name for her male protagonist. Instead, she focuses on Anna, in fact, she tells the story from Annas point of view. This is done to accomodate what Elaine Showalter calls the increased interiority, the emphasis on Annas feelings.30 A similar gender shift in point of view, from a mans perspective to a womans, is also the case in Oatess version of


The Dead. Not only does Oates change the point of view, but she also expands, and elaborates upon what Chekhovs Anna experiences. Then she also adds certain Oatesian elements. Oatess story begins during an intermission at a concert hall. While Annas husband has left to make a telephone call, her lover from the past summer makes a sudden appearance: There he stood. He was there in the isle, a few yards away, watching her. My God, Anna whispers, feeling faint and sick.31 Her husband takes her home. Chekhov begins at the beginning and proceeds in strict chronological order. Seated at an outdoor caf, Gurov catches sight of a new arrival, a woman wearing a toque, walking along the promenade with a white Pomeranian trotting behind her. His first thought concerns his calculated chances. If she is there alone, without husband and friends, then it wouldnt be a bad idea to make her acquaintance, Gurov plots.32 By the omniscient narrator we are told of his age, his family situation, how he considers his wife to be shallow, narrow-minded, and dowdy (ibid) and that he is constantly unfaithful to her(222). While women to him should be referred to as the lower race, he acknowledges, at the same time, the fact that he cannot do without them (ibid). After an initial meeting, they keep seeing each other, until her husband asks her to return, since he is having trouble with his eyes. Back in Moscow, Gurov cannot forget Anna Sergeyevna; he finally decides to look her up in her hometown where he surprises her at the theater. Then their love story continues to develop in a strict chronological order. The woman is the one who goes to Moscow periodically to meet her lover in a hotel. By using a circular structure Oates breaks off Chekhovs straight chronological narrative. She divides her story into three different sections. The first short one covers the dramatic scene at the theater when the lovers meet again after six months. Oates then adds a scene of love- making between husband and wife after their return home from the theater. Shutting her eyes she thinks of the other man, which begins a process of emotional upheaval in Anna who must make a choice between these two men. The second section is a flashback to their leavetaking and drive from Nantucket to Albany where they spend two hours just sitting in the car. The concert scene is recapitulated and then their adulterous affair continues. The third section, the longest one, tells us of their very first meeting on the beach,


then recapitulates events from sections one and two, ending in the same open-ended manner as Chekhovs story does. As an expression of the circular structure the American Anna notes that [e]verything is repeating itself(341). She feels very much wrapped up in a situation where she is not in full control, in an emotional chaos of mixed feelings. Thus Oatess repetitive, circular, labyrinthine structure reflects her protagonists state of mind. As readers we are invited to share, or we are rather forced to, partake of Annas emotional turmoil. Structure and content are in such wise ingeniously interlinked by Oates. Annas wavering thoughts are expressed in italics, a stylistic device frequently used by Oates. At their very first meeting, she repeats What is he thinking? (336) Like a teenage girl in love, she cannot concentrate on her reading that evening. She keeps thinking of the man with the dog, because in Oatess story the dog of the strange title belongs to the man. As she invites him in one evening, she thinks This is not important...he doesnt mean it, he doesnt love me, nothing will come of it(338). Yet, she is anticipating an act of adultery, an accomplishment she would take back to Ohio and to her marriage, cold, calculating thoughts reminiscent of Gurovs initial lady-killer instinct (ibid). After that first love-making she sends him away. A strong sense of shame overtakes her: her insides heavy with shame, the very backs of her eyelids coated with shame (339). The words shame, ashamed are repeated some ten times to underscore Annas reaction which is also a reflection of Chekhovs Anna who, at the turn of the century, was tearfully calling herself a fallen woman (225). Similarly to Ilena in The Dead, Anna begins to mix the two men in her life: She lay in his arms while her husband talked to her, miles away, one body fading into another (333). Showalter, who sees Oatess revision as an interrogation of the Chekhovian original, interprets this scene as an accusation in the sense that womens opportunities have not fundamentally changed since the nineteenth century.33 However true that may be in a very general sense, it appears to me that Oates here is merely emphasizing the mental state of her protagonist, since Anna herself is also beginning to feel as if she is lacking contours, having no edge, no boundary. Returning to her husband, she realizes this change in herself; a shadow-woman has taken her place (330). She fears that she might just


slide away or dissolve, which is either an expression of her indecisiveness or merely wishful escapism. There is yet another reason for Oates to focus on the woman protagonist as she explains in a lengthy article entitled At Least I Have Made a Woman of Her: Images of Women in Twentieth-Century Literature. By examining Yeats, Faulkner, Lawrence, James and others she makes the claim that modernist literature, however sophisticated and radical in many respects, carries over deep-rooted nineteenth-century prejudices of a distinctly bourgeois sort. Their images of Woman are as fixed in masculinity as ever. There is no doubt that Oates includes Chekhov among those most celebrated of twentieth-century writers [who] have presented Woman through the distorting lens of sexist imaginations sometimes with courtly subtlety, sometimes with a ferocious indignation that erupts in violence.34 In order to counteract this failure to transcend stereotypical and reactionary images of women in literature Oates has obviously felt the need to present her own womanly images. Hence the emphasis on Anna in The Lady with the Pet Dog. Annas indecisive wavering and her uncertain feeling of self are not the only instances of ailment. In fact, there are many references to sickness in Oatess story to underscore the theme of suffering inherent in love. Annas mother-in-law, for example, is kept tranquillized and mute in a nursing home(330), her lovers son is blind, her own husband cannot see clearly, she nearly faints at the concert hall, at one time she even feels that she is going insane (341). In addition, she begins to harbor violent thoughts. Sitting in the car she thinks: One of us should die(329), as if that would solve their predicament. On another occasion she gets the idea of killing her lover, and his family (334). In Albany she expresses suicidal thoughts not being sure whether she wanted to live or not (339). In the end she makes a half-hearted attempt at suicide drawing a razor across her arm. These violent and self-destructive tendencies are indeed an Oatesian addition which Bastian, for example, does not account for. Anna expresses truly contradictory feelings. On the one hand, her lover is her savior who has come to complete her life, a permanent fixing of all that was troubled and shifting and deadly(329). You have defined my soul for me (339), she believes and only wants to live for him, but can she trust him? Her mood swings and, on the other hand, she wants to be free of him. Love is a poison(327), but in moments when she is sure of their


feelings for each other, then she has no choice about it (330). Then problems vanish and she can even feel how simple life is (339). Despite the fact that Anna feels so permanently married to her husband, their relationship has obviously stagnated (338). As yet another link to Ilena in The Dead, she also begins to reflect on the very meaning of love and marriage. What did it mean to enter into a bond with another person?(329) Lying in bed together with her lover, she begins to see them as one figure, one substance in contrast to the disjointed world outside. She actually envisions their entangled bodies as an artists drawing, while realizing how absurd it is to become dependent on another human being (342). Leaving his hotel, she thinks of what to do with love, [u]seless as moths wings, as moths fluttering (333). This image aptly sums up Annas oscillation. However useless love, or mothss fluttering, might seem, her heart has been stirred; neither she nor the insects can survive without it. There are many signs of the modern Annas growing love which correspond to Gurovs transformation in Chekhovs story. He starts out as quite a snobbish male chauvinist who looks down upon the female sex and sees Anna as just another conquest in a long line. In a memorable scene, after their first love-making, Anna feels full of remorse, while he, bored, helps himself to a slice of watermelon. It comes as a surprise indeed for Gurov, once he is back in Moscow, that he cannot forget Anna. When he becomes sleepless and restless with work and family, he realizes he must do something about his spiritual well-being.

The Ending
Gurovs transformation as well as the American Annas growing feelings of love prepare the way for similar endings. Annas qualms have eventually given results. In a symbolically significant mirror scene, suggestive of a belated mirror stage, seeing her lovers reflection as he is preparing to leave yet another hotel room, she gains insight into their situation, particularly their separateness as individuals and their oneness as a couple. Suddenly joyfully, she felt a miraculous calm(343). In Chekhov it is Gurov who has a similar experience in front of the mirror. According to Lacan the mirror stage involves a process of constructing a center of the self (for the infant actually), an identity, or an awareness of the boundaries of the body through literal mirror observations.35


What Anna has realized, after many trials and tribulations and feeling contourless, is that her feelings for her lover are above and beyond everything, including her own self-pity. Filled with selfless energy, she no longer seeks escape into death or hates herself; she has regained her wish to live. Although she has a husband somewhere else, this man was her husband, truly they were truly married. As the pieces are beginning to fit into the puzzle, Anna can see that all along, [she had] been behaving correctly; out of instinct (343). Her lover who has not yet been informed of her recent revelations, merely stares at her asking about her reason for being so happy. We dont have any right to it. Is it because...? he asks. Annas simple answer is an affirmative yes (344). What exactly do they mean? As readers we are left to our own devices. In a similar way Chekhovs readers felt abandoned. When his story was published in 1899, it caused quite a stir. In fact, many women, who identified with Anna in particular, requested that he rewrite the ending, to let them know what happened. Here follows an extract from a letter from one of his readers, S S Remizova:
I read your story... and I should like to ask you to write the continuation of it. You have abandoned your the most critical moment in their lives when they have to make a decision, but which one?... It is very important for someone like you, Anton Pavlovich, who can see into the human heart, to happiness can be found in such a situation so that nobody should be miserable over this.36

Reports coming out of Yalta even claimed that the number of ladies with dogs on the promenade had drastically increased. Although this letter writer might express her wishful thinking, she is definitely convinced that the ending will be a happy one. As Chekhovs lovers discuss their situation, Gurov asks repeatedly how are they going to solve their problems. This is how Chekhov ends his story:
And it seemed to them that they were within an inch of arriving at a decision, and that then a new, beautiful life would begin. And they both realized that the end was still far, far away, and that the hardest, the most complicated part was only just beginning (235).


Chekhov had experienced some trouble with this ending and had changed it several times. In his first version love had made them both better. Then it had changed them both for the better. Finally, to avoid moral pointers, he removed the word better and simply wrote had changed them both.37 His main point was to show the transforming power of human love which is what Oates shows in her revised version as well.

The Title
Since Chekhov is quite restrictive in his description of Anna Sergeyevna: she has a slender, delicate neck,...fine gray eyes(223); she is fair and not very tall (221), the dog is used as a marker. The white Pomeranian becomes her mark of distinction, as she strolls along the Yalta promenade. Oates has noted this ordinariness of Chekhovs characters and has transferred it to her description of the lovers face, his ordinary, friendly face (335).38 Since she reverses the viewpoint, it is also natural to place the dog, a small golden retriever more typical of American twentieth-century life, with the lover and his son. In both stories the dogs also fill a second function. Through these animals the characters establish contact. Gurov, first, seeks contact with the Pomeranian by snapping his fingers at him and making him growl. Anna feels obliged to assure him that he does not bite. Once contact is established, the dog has served his function and is duly forgotten. That is not the case in Oatess story where the author also develops the theme of the dog and deepens the meaning of the title. In Nantucket the lovers first meeting is also provoked by a nuzzling dog. During their second meeting on the beach, the man takes out his sketch pad and makes a few drawings of Anna. Afterwards she can choose one of them. Then she picks the one of herself with the dog in her lap. The man calls it Lady with pet dog.39 Yet, at night, while thinking of him, she calls him the man with the dog, still another Oatsean gender reversal. In other words, the dog serves the function of being a bond between them. Anna comes to cherish this drawing, which becomes a tangible symbol of their furtive liaison. She actually brings it out right after she and her husband have made love on the evening of the concert, while her husband is out of the bedroom. The drawing brings back memories: There she was, on the beach at Nantucket, a lady with a pet dog, her eyes large and


defined, the dog in her lap hardly more than a few snarls, a few coarse soft lines of charcoal... It provokes her into thinking of the status of their love affair. The very next day she decides to go and see him at his hotel. This piece of art, the drawing of her and his own dog, thus serves to reconnect the lovers, to revivify their feelings for each other. In contrast, another art piece, a painting by Ben Shahn, is used by Oates to show the insensitivity to fine art of the lovers wife. Having recently inherited this valuable painting, she is foolishly intending to tamper with it, i e, touch it up a little (343). This negative use of art in a sense echoes Chekhovs seduction scene, in which Anna through the medium of art is given a horrible description. Her pose of dismal meditation is there compared to that of a repentant sinner in some classical painting.40 Bored to death Gurov has, at this point, not yet fallen for Anna (225). Once again, as in the invocation of Chagall in The Dead, we see how Oates uses art to underscore her characters emotional state. In the scene earlier quoted where the lovers are entwined into a single figure, Anna feels that this might be the subject of a drawing, because this would lend permanence not only to that particular situation, but also to any romantic ideals they may fancy. While her lover drew her, or rather his first impression of her, with the dog, she experienced an extreme pleasure which she likens to a trance (336). Later on when studying the drawing, she tries to recall that precious moment by copying her own girlishly withdrawn and patrician expression from the drawing (338). Since art is long, and life is short, that drawing will forever testify to their moment of budding love.

Oatess revised version of Checkhovs story The Lady with the Dog might be seen as more of a marriage than an infidelity on first sight. Bastian is basically correct in her seeing Oatess story as closely modelled upon the original with its numerous intertextual links, as has been demonstrated. Yet, my study has shown that Oates has indeed created an independent story in which she has expanded certain areas, such as the meaning of the title and the role of art; or, she has added scenes, e g, the marital lovemaking upon returning from the theater, or Annas suicidal and violent inclinations; or, Oates has even introduced some drastic changes, for


instance, the storys point of view, from a male to a female focus, the linear plot has been broken up to be replaced by a circular, repetitive, more complex structure that, without a doubt, better reflects the emotional trauma of the illicit love affair being described. Chekhovs story is a wonderful story in its own right. However, by retaining the essentials of the intertext, then adding to it, reinterpreting, changing and expanding some elements, Oates creates an autonomous, American Lady with the Pet Dog that is indeed Oatesian.


1 2 Joyce Carol Oates, The Short Story, 4-page typescript in the archives at Syracuse University, Box 30, page 3. Sanford Pinsker, Speaking about Short Fiction: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates in Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates, ed. Lee Milazzo, 96. From Studies in Short Fiction, Summer 1981. Rufus W Mathewson, Chekhovs Legacy: Icebergs and Epiphanies in Chekhov and Our Age. Responses to Chekhov by American Writers and Scholars, ed. James McConkey (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984) 14. Carolina Maegd De Sop, Chekhov and Women, Women in the Life and Work of Chekhov (Columbus, Ohio: Slavia Publications, 1987) 315. Torborg Norman, Isolation and Contact: A Study of Character Relationships in Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories 1963-1980 (Gteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1984) 157. Greg Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, A Study of the Short Fiction (New York: Twayne Pyblishers, 1994) 17. Greg Johnson, Invisible Writer, A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates (New York: Penguin, 1998) 334. Elaine Showalter, Lea Baechler, Litz A Walton, editors, Modern American Writers (New York: Schribner, 1991) 360. See my article Crossing the US/Canadian National Border, A Matter of Identity in Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas King and John Steinbeck in Dangerous Crossing. Papers on Transgression in Literature and Culture, editors Monica Loeb, Gerald Porter (Uppsala: Swedish Science Press, 1999) 45-53, where Arnold van Genneps and Victor Turners ideas on liminality are used for an analysis of these seven stories.

4 5

6 7 8 9

10 Oates and her husband owned a race horse, a bay filly called Impish Lobell when this story was written. See Greg Johnsons biography for details 350-351. 11 Joyce Carol Oates, Where Ive Been, And Where Im Going, Essays, Reviews, and Prose (New York: A Plume Book, 1999) 381. 12 Eudora Welty in McConkey 117. 13 Eileen Baldeshwiler, The Lyric Short Story in The New Short Story Theories, ed. Charles E May (Athens: Ohio UP, 1994) 231. 14 Mathewson in McConkey 13. 15 Andrew R Durkin, Chekhovs Narrative Technique in A Chekhov Companion, ed. Toby W Clyman (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1985) 129. 16 Ralph Lindheim, Chekhovs Major Themes in Clyman 129. 17 Conrad Aiken, Collected Criticism (New York: Oxford UP, 1968) 149. 18 George Lukcs, The Theory of the Novel, transl. Anna Bostock (1920; Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1971) 51. 19 Raymond Carver in May 274. 103

20 Transformation of Self: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates (no author) in Milazzo 50. From The Ohio Review, Autumn 1973. 21 Welty in McConkey 111. 22 Joe David Bellamy, The Dark Lady of American Letters in Milazzo 18. From Atlantic, Fall 1972. 23 Chekhov quoted by Kenneth A Lantz, Chekhovs Cast of Characters in Clyman 71. 24 Chekhov in May 195-197. 25 Joyce Carol Oates, The Nature of Short Fiction; or, The Nature of My Short Fiction in Greg Johnson 1994:127. Preface from The Writers Digest. Handbook of Short Story Writing, ed. Frank A Dickinson and Sandra Smythe (Cincinnati: Writers Digest Books, 1970). 26 Showalter 358. 27 Katherine Bastian, Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories Between Tradition and Innovation (Frankfurt Am Maine: Peter Lang, 1983) 52. 28 Joanne Creighton, Joyce Carol Oates (Boston: Twayne, 1979) 132. 29 Matthew C Brennan, Plotting Against Chekhov: Joyce Carol Oates and The Lady with the Dog in Notes on American Literature Vol 9, No 13, 1985: 15. 30 Showalter 358. 31 Joyce Carol Oates, Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 327. All subsequent references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text. 32 Anton Chekhov, The Lady with the Dog, in Anton Chekhovs Short Stories, ed. Ralph E Matlaw, transl. Constance Garnett (New York: Norton & Company, 1979) 221. All subsequent references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text. 33 Showalter 358. 34 At Least I Have Made a Woman of Her: Images of Women in Twentieth-Century Literature, The Georgia Review 37 (Spring 1983): 7. 35 Bice Benvenuto and Roger Kennedy, The Works of Jacques Lacan: An Introduction (New York: St. Martins, 1986) 55. 36 Sop 320. 37 Virginia Llwellyn Smith, Anton Chekhov and the Lady with the Dog (London: Oxford UP, 1973) 213. 38 Compare to the Oatsean emphasis on ordinariness in Where I Lived, and What I Lived For in chapter six. 39 Chekhovs story has variously been translated into English as The Lady with a Pet Dog, The Lady with the Dog, Lady with a Dog or The Lady with a Lapdog. 40 Some translations are specific in calling the sinner a Magdalene.



Flauberts The Spiral

Pour vivre, je ne dis pas heureux..., mais tranquille, il faut se crer dehors de lxistence visible...une autre existence interne et inaccessible. Gustave Flaubert We are such stuff as dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded off with a sleep. William Shakespeare

The Spiral, a short story by Joyce Carol Oates, was first published in the 1969 winter issue of Shenandoah. With its focus on a man in crisis, it easily fits in with her series of reimagined stories where men and women find themselves facing various life crises that result in breakdowns. Initially we may be lured into believing that this is a love story. Wendell, the protagonist, is anxiously awaiting a phone call in the park, as the story opens, a call that might change his life. He is 35, a medical doctor who is in love for the first time in his life. Joanne, his mistress, is married to another man, a very disturbed man.1 Their affair has been going on for a long time, giving Wendell insight into the various secrets of a disintegrating marriage (348). In this phone call Joanne will let him know whether she will leave her husband. It all turns out in his favor. After their marriage, everything has become perfect (352). Before long they decide to have children. During the pregnancy Wendell suffers from moods of depression; he has headaches and feels nauseated. After the baby, a boy, is born, Joanne hopes that the child will be able to make everything perfect again (357). However, Wendells condition deteriorates gradually. In a final scene at a movie theater, with his wife and a male friend, he feels totally lost, paralyzed. He no longer knows his friends or his wifes name. And who is Stephen (their son)? He experiences a feeling of nothingness, as he is drifting off into sleep upon returning home.

The reader has been prepared for Wendells breakdown all along, although due to the fact that he is a successful professional and has a happy family life, there is a certain resistance to seeing the signs planted along the way. Wendalls father, for instance, the happy retiree, who is his opposite in that he is always on the go, constantly seeking new challenges in spite of his age, constitutes a parallel contrast to his son. Also, there are sections of the story where Wendell is recollecting the past, scenes from his childhood or student days, or when he enters a dream state, and, at times, he mixes the two. Oates has devised a concrete way of reflecting these different stages, as will be shown later on. Oatess other reimagined short stories have all been based on famous classics written by the great masters of Western literature. It is well known, for instance, who wrote The Metamorphosis or The Turn of the Screw. But who sired The Spiral? All of the authors of the other stories treated in this study are identifiable by their mere titles. It is common knowledge that Henry James authored The Turn of the Screw, Kafka wrote The Metamorphosis and James Joyce is the author of The Dead. While Kafka represents a mid- or East European Germanic/Jewish tradition, James Joyce an Anglo-Irish tradition, and Chekov the Russian school of writing, Henry David Thoreau and Henry James stand for an American tradition. Who might possibly be missing from this list to make it a comprehensive list of canonical writers who have contributed to the shaping of tradition in Western literature? By method of exclusion I deduced that the one and only area devoid of representation on this list would be the field of romance languages, most likely the French tradition with several great literary masters. Could it be Maupassant, or Flaubert, Balzac or Stendahl? Oates once stated when asked whether she was a gothic novelist, that she was rather a romantic writer in the tradition of Stendahl and Flaubert, thus expressing a certain affinity with these French writers.2 When checking for printed literary works, no such title existed. However, when checking among unpublished works, there was a reference to La Spirale by Gustave Flaubert. 3 Strangely enough, Marie-Jeanne Durry in her comprehensive study of Flauberts unpublished works, FLAUBERT ET SES PROJETS INEDITS from 1921 only mentions La Spirale, en passant, in a single sentence.4 Louis Bertrands popularized book from the same year written in the form of a dialogue with Flaubert who animatedly talks about his work does


include La Spirale.5 In the words of Flaubert himself it is there called a philosophical and transcendental novel!6 Bertrand makes Flaubert debate the intentions and goals for planning to write such a novel. Briefly Flaubert tells us of its plot in some detail and informs us of its conclusion. All these details, it turns out, are directly taken from Flauberts text. But as far as the title is concerned, the narrator dares not ask the great writer, since he cannot grasp its significance:Javoue que je saisissais mal(73)7 . At last, I found the text itself printed as an introduction to an article from 1958 entitled Une trouvaille by E.W. Fischer.8 It turns out that Flaubert had done a sketchy outline for a novel to be called La Spirale. It is simply a very rough plan that consists of three handwritten pages, some in ink, some in pencil, even using the backside of one of the pages. Being a sketch it frequently lacks punctuation, or complete sentences. Since there is no translation of this text into English, as far as I can find, I have of necessity, completed such a translation to be found in an appendix, and which I will be using for the remainder of this chapter. Oates also verifies the fact that no English translation is available when stating that I did not read in translation but in a discussion of Flauberts work.9

La Spirale
Flaubert begins his outline with a clearly stated intention: Make a book exciting-and moral-as conclusion prove that happiness is in the imagination.10 The apparent moral is that felicity resides in illusion, that dreams can save you from a basically mean life which only exposes the individual to suffering. Flauberts hero is a man, a painter, who has given up his art after traveling in the Orient. His mind is filled with impressions and images from that part of the world where he also acquired the habit of using marijuana. When reducing the dose he first becomes accustomed to merely smelling the bottle in order to reach a hallucinatory state. Then he no longer requires any stimulant; he can reach his visions by sheer will. That is when he reaches what Flaubert calls ltat fantastique, a state of fantasy, dream and hallucination. The process of reaching this stage should be slow and progressive. Each visit to this higher level of being should be seen as a reward, an escape from reality. Eventually, the hero will reach a stage of permanent somnabulism. This will grant him immunity to pain.


In real life the protagonists miseries pile up one on top of another. He is impoverished, betrayed, the object of slander..., a true failure.11 Even his love life is a source of pain: the woman he loves is married to another man, an idiot. Although she rejects him, he continues to assist both her and her husband, and he is the one who brings up their child! The idea of doing good is apparently an important part of Flauberts morality. Whenever his hero performs a bad or evil act, dreams will not come to him. In other words, dreams are a reward for virtuous acts, a kind of bleeding, a purgation. Thus, Flaubert states, the dream has an active moralizing influence on his life.12 The road to final bliss, i e, loss of pain, when all time, all cultures, the Truth so called, come together, is difficult and long. For Flauberts protagonist it means that he will end up in a mental institution with other fools. He will speak the language of animals and will converse with the Gods. In the eyes of the world he will appear insane, while for himself he has reached a stage voluntarily sought: le bonheur consiste tre Fou....13 This mixture of all times and cultures will expose him to some incredible people and scenes, which are simply listed by Flaubert. These include a stupid mayor, a conceited governor transformed into a cruel sultan, a woman metamorphosed into an odalisque, a marching army in the mountains, fisheries and palaces, a snake with a womans face, a prince fencing with a monkey, a caravan in the desert, the Crusades, a revolution, a flogging, a woman Pythagorean etc. The intention is that he should sample, and endure, every kind of passion in order to triumph, in the end, over both others and himself. The movement of the spiral implies both the gradual characteristics of the circular movement, and the movement away into infinity. Via the spiral form Flaubert aspired to leave the imperfections of human life to reach the higher spheres of Truth and Beauty. This was not a project void of risks. According to the very last notes of his outline, it is recommended that the story should open with a final letter from the hero, summarizing his views on everything and announcing at the same time his impending suicide. In fact, while holding a strong attraction for Flaubert, this desired state also frightened him tremendously.14 Perhaps this was one of the reasons why the project was never realized.


Autobiographical Elements in La Spirale

There is no doubt that this sketchy plan for La Spirale contains many references to Flauberts own life. Periodically he had experienced a great need to retreat from society or to escape from reality. He would close his window shutters, smoke his pipe, light candles and a fire, then drink coffee with punch, thus creating a kind of light drunkenness. He was a dreamer often envisioning far-away places. In a letter to Louise Colet in l842, his mistress, he is dreaming excitedly of anything from snowy roads to a sunny Mediterranean, or the sands of Syria where the stars are four times the size of our stars.15 Bovarysme, or what Victor Brombert calls a thirst for the impossible, this confrontation of dream and reality, was a guiding principle for Flaubert who preferred the idea of being out on the high seas to staying in a safe port.16 In a letter from 1840, for instance, he identifies with the melancholy of the barbarian races.17 Instead of enjoying Rome when he was there, as another example, he dreamed of Africa, of black people hunting elephants. He was often bored with life: je nai rien que des dsir immenses et insatiables, un ennui atroce et des billements continus.18 In 1843 Flaubert suffered a health crisis. From his youth he had experienced hallucinations. To this condition was also added epileptic seizures and syphilis; he was to be sickly for the rest of his life suffering from various nervous afflictions. Ten years later in a letter, Flaubert states that he had no regrets when looking back on these years of sickness, in spite of suicidal thoughts and melancholy. Rather he saw them as a good experience that provided him with insight into psychological states to be used one day in a book (the metaphysical novel that I have told you about).19 In fact, Flaubert sought refuge in isolation and misanthropy; illness became a kind of precious alibi for him, according to Brombert.20 In a letter to his friend Le Poittevin he states that ...I am really well only since I have accepted to be always unwell.21 At about this time Flaubert also describes how impressions from his trips and childhood memories mix and dance, as he says, significantly mounting in a spiral.22 Again, these experiences point forward to the planned novel La Spirale. Oates certainly agrees with Flaubert, stressing the necessity of withdrawal and isolation on the part of the artist in order to be productive. In an article she even uses a quote from Flaubert to illustrate her point: Thrown in the world, as Flaubert says, we are too confused to make sense of it; we must withdraw from the world in order to truly experience it. However, in this article on the

short story, she also strongly expresses the belief that experience must precede literary production, i e, live first then tell.23 In addition to his own experiences of semi-hallucinations and unusual states of mind, Flaubert was greatly influenced by Baudelaires prose poems, in particular the collection entitled Les paradis artificiels. These appeared in 1860 and speak very concretely of using drugs to attain the higher states that Flaubert desired. In the prose poem of the same title as the collection, Baudelaire frankly states that true reality is but in dreams.24 Since man is in constant search of moments of bliss, however short and few, hashish is a means of attaining it. Baudelaire goes into factual descriptions of the plant, its cultivation in the Orient, when and how to take it, the risks involved (which were minimal: he emphasizes the fact that you certainly dont risk dying from hashish 173), and the right moment for its use. There are three stages entailed: first, you experience hilarity, of a certain infantile character; second, after a brief rest, your sensory perception is at a peak, and hallucinations will result. As Baudelaire puts it: Les yeux visent linfini.25 The third stage, called the kief in Oriental languages, leads to beatitude, tranquillity, a glorious resignation.26 That is when all pain vanishes, and your sense of time ceases to exist. Obviously these glorious descriptions of the effects of using drugs held a strong attraction for Flaubert. Although he was too scared to experiment with drugs himself (he had in his possession a prescription, never used, from a doctor), Baudelaires descriptions furnished him with objective details that he could fuse with his own impressions and consequently transfer onto his projected protagonist in La Spirale. The choice of title, according to E.W. Fischer, must be seen as symbolic, even metaphysical. Apparently Flaubert was enchanted by the images of circles rising and vanishing into space; the spiral was une ide fixe with him that he often referred to, as in the following quote from Mmoires dun fou: Oh! Iinfini! Iinfini! gouffre immense, spirale qui monte des abmes aux plus hautes rgions de linconnu. 27 Fischer interprets this as an aspiration in Flaubert to surpass the limits of earthly existence, a symbol of what he calls la dlivrance du moi,...une ascension intellectuelle....28 All of these notions certainly echo ideas expressed above and coalesce into a general concept of what a spiral might have signified for Flaubert. As far as dating Flauberts sketchy manuscript we must rely on hypotheses since the text itself indicates no date at all. Fischer assumes that the novel


mentioned in a letter to Louise Colet in early May of 1852 is La Spirale, since Flaubert speaks of a metaphysical novel that has preoccupied his thoughts for the last two weeks.29 However, we cannot be certain about the identity of this novel because it is never mentioned by name. There were other plans as well for several other never completed works. Paul Dimoff is of the opinion that a later date, the end of 1860 or the beginning of 1861, would be more correct, since he feels that the influence from Baudelaires Les paradis artificiels, published in 1860, was of decisive importance.30 However that may be, it is more interesting to speculate on the reasons why this particular project was never realized. On this point Dimoff agrees with Fischer who speculates on three reasons why Flaubert never carried out his plans. First of all, it was too personal, using his own health and experiences for the plot. Second and related, his writing had previously aimed for the esthetically impersonal; all great art should aim for the objective, leaving out the self of the artist. A third reason would be the strong similarity in subject and inspiration with La tentation de saint Antoine. They are both about a sole individual, a male, whose inner life, his visions, gradually lead him into one long perpetual dream.31

La Spirale/The Spiral A Comparison

What intrigued Oates into writing her own version of Flauberts sketchily outlined but never written or published novel La Spirale? She has often referred to a certain kinship with Flaubert and her debt to him. One of her short story collections is entitled A Sentimental Education (1980) which is a direct translation of Flauberts LEducation sentimentale (1845 and 1869). Her title story, or rather novella, treats the topic of a gradual infatuation between two cousins that ends in rape and death. Oates has also many times invoked the following quote from Flaubert that has been of great importance to her: We must love one another in our art as the mystics love one another in God.32 Once again she emphasizes the magic, nearly religious, quality of artistic activity, as well as the very basis of this series of reimagined works under study, i e, the communal aspects of art, explaining that [b]y knowing one anothers creation we honor something that deeply connects us all, and goes beyond us.33


What fascinated Joyce Carol Oates in particular about Flauberts outline for a novel was exactly its sketchy nature, [t]he Spiral as a novel-inembryo. What a fascinating idea..., as she puts it.34 Compared to her other reimaginings, which have all been derived from completed works, this one provided her with quite a different challenge. In other words she could freely latch onto whatever ideas appealed to her and then proceed to create a story of her own. In the following analysis I will investigate what she has chosen to retain as intertextual elements, or to expand upon. Characters, major themes, the title, the concept of time and the technique of juxtaposition will be examined below.

Both authors have focused on men, intellectuals and professionals, one an artist, the other a medical doctor. While Flauberts nineteenth-century man gives up his profession, Oatess man continues to be successful in his work. He has an idealistic deep desire to go out into the world and heal people(350). Although he is unwell, his patients are ironically doing well indeed. At one point he has lunch with a former patient who has displayed some of his very own symptoms, but who has been found to be in excellent health which he feels he owes to the good doctor. This patients gratitude is heartfelt. But gradually the inner life of both these men takes over and exerts control over their respective lives. The suicidal ideas or the incarceration in a mental institution in Flaubert have not been adopted by Oates. Yet, there is room for such developments due to her storys open closure. Her protagonist is sinking into sleep at the end, perhaps indicative of suicidal thoughts or the sleep that Shakespeare talks of as rounding off our little life in The Tempest. Wendell at this point only wishes for the weightlessness of a perpetual sleep(361). Dreams are essential for both men to reach their inner selves. While Flauberts man uses drugs to do so at the outset, Oatess Wendell does not repeat this pattern, although in his profession he most certainly would have had access to such substances. For Wendell transformation is a mental stage. He appears to be a loner who keeps to himself, easily daydreaming in and out of time. Wendell does not fall in love, for instance, until the age of 33. At that point he believes that [a] man must love and must be loved or he


himself cannot be healed, cannot heal others(350). The object of his feelings is a married woman, which is also the case in Flauberts fragment of a story. In both cases the husbands are characterized similarly: an idiot in Flaubert and a very disturbed man in Oates (347). Wendell is lucky; he wins his woman, and he feels genuinely loved, but love does not solve his problems, as it turns out. Projecting his own feelings of inadequacy onto his wife, he claims that he can sense her desire to escape, to get out-better leave this sick man while she is still healthy!(356). Flauberts nameless character fares less well; he never wins the womans love, but lingers on helping her and her family. In the Oates story there are two contrasted minor characters who add to our total impression of the protagonist. First, there is his own father who has been a successful businessman. He gives away money to charities because he wants to help people in a patronizing way, to make them slightly less wrong (350). He is a handsome, well dressed, grey-haired widower, recently retired at 65 whose motto seems to be carpe diem: Every day there is something surprising, something to justify that day a hundred times over(346). Recently, with great enthusiasm, he has taken up photography, a completely new field for him. Wendell truly loves his father and looks up to him, but feels inadequate in his presence; Wendall is a young man whose terror lies in the future(360). There is so much to fear, such as xrays, report cards, parks, the dark, his fathers aging body, as well as his own body, cancer, breathing, photographs, and above all being a failure. Flauberts only character is also a miserable failure in everything he undertakes from love to duels and business; he is successful at nothing.35 Through this portrait of the jovial father we understand how inferior Wendell, the son, feels. At times he must simply escape from his presence, making up excuses that he must return to college earlier than intended. In fact, he sees no need for other people around him [e]xcept to heal them? He does not need other people except as bodies in a professional sense, in order to do good (353). The second character, a girl, added by Oates to her story is rather a parallel, or a mirror, held up as a frightening, yet attractive, example for Wendell. What is the girl doing? is the very first inquisitive sentence of the short story. Wendell observes her in the park, as he is waiting there for Joannes magic telephone call that might change his life. This is a girl in her twenties, very thin, either mentally disturbed or drugged, oddly dressed in


a colorful poncho. Barefoot, she ambles around like a somnambulator singing, unaware of others. Her face is described as odd, caving inward, with tiny eyes, tiny nose and a chin that seemed to melt away (345). Everything about her is blank: her voice, her eyes. This adjective is repeated whenever the girl reappears. The very word is also used as a link to Wendell, as he feels a puddle of blankness beginning to form [a]t the back of his if it were the shape of his existence...a premonition (246). He is putting all his faith into a relationship with Joanne; life without her would be meaningless. In other words he can identify with the girl, who certainly seems to exist in her own world, but he expects Joanne, or love, to save him from an equally blank, or meaningless life. As we know, neither one will do so. At the end of the story, as if completing the circle, the girl reappears in his dreams, when he has been put to bed after the incident at the movie house. He can hear someone say: Dont stop breathing! This is yet another link between the two, an echo of what he himself told the girl as she fell to the ground that very first time he saw her in the park (361 and 351). Being a doctor he performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her. Angrily he murmurs You are not going to die! twice, and does manage to bring her back to life (351). Is this a dream, his constant wish to do good, or a projection of his own fear of death? Wendells final encounter with the girl must certainly be a dream, as he is sleeping in his bed at home. He still feels as paralyzed as he had been at the theater. Yet, when the girl makes an intimate gesture with her hand, he begins to undress in the park. First the shirt, the tie, then his belt and trousers. He sees the girl as his true bride (repeated three times), he falls to his knees, grasping her ankles, kissing her feet while weeping (347). He might be mixing her up with Joanne or see her as an elusive extension of things he cannot reach, but more likely his attraction to the girls otherworldliness signifies a marriage of like minds.

As can be seen above, both protagonists share a basic wish to be good, to do good deeds. For Flauberts man, acts of goodness will be rewarded by dreams that enable him to escape. Immediately following the initial suicide note, an opportunity to do good presents itself, and that will start off the


entire action of the novel.36 Wendell also has a strong need to be a good person in his profession. Like Christ he would like to raise people from the dead, but realizes his powers are limited to at least snatch[ing] the living away from death at the very last second, stirring their limbs, breathing his own life into them(350). That is literally what he does, or dreams of doing, to the girl in the park. The tragedy of it is that he can heal others, but not himself. His belief is that everyone shares this desire to be good, that it is a way of managing life(347). Connected to the theme of doing good is the sense of doubleness experienced by both characters. They are torn between reality and dream. Flaubert states that for his real life situations must be found that are as intense as possible-filled with drama and sentiment. That is where he fails miserably, while his greatest successes will come in his fantasy life. The unhappier he is in fact, the happier he is in the dream.37 The same goes for Wendell who appears to be a loner who retreats into a dream world where he performs wonders. While Flauberts man quickly moves from one exotic scene to another, from one problem to another, Wendell also moves between different levels, from reality, to fantasy, into the past as well. That is also recommended by Flaubert who suggests a gradual return from the Orient to feudalism, revolution, even the crusades: Commence by any action, (a trial?) that brings him back to his grandfathers time. Dreams should be prepared; they are interrupted by sudden awakenings when they are at their best, Flaubert exhorts.38 This is also something that can be witnessed in the Oates story where the protagonist is constantly moving between these various levels. In the beach scene, for instance, when the newly-weds are on their honeymoon, everything is perfect and all smiles. Yet, Wendell dreams himself back associating to another beach near Chicago where the beach is coupled with his childhood or youth solitude. In a third scene introduced by the single word Waking on a line set apart from the rest, he returns to his honeymoon, still confusing the two beaches and the two different moods they represent for him (351-353). Change is another theme shared by the two texts. Both major characters are looking for change. Wendell believes that marriage will turn his life around at the outset of the short story. At the end we realize that this was not so. Flauberts man seeks to move from the real into the fantastic state. However, Flaubert emphasizes several times that this change must be


progressive or gradual. The aim for Flaubert is a state of permanent somnabulism and immunity to pain. In reality that means life in a mental hospital where the world will regard him as crazy. This is indeed an example of the mythic belief in the happy fool. Happiness resides in being an Idiot, according to Flaubert.39 Wendell has similiar thoughts. Once when eating a hot dog he reflects upon his spirit, whimsically, lifting itself from his body. This is a sensation he compares to a mist lifting from a bog. He asks himself whether this change signifies [f ]reedom or dissolution? thus signalling uncertainty(347). In speaking about the phenomenon of changing city neighborhoods, he echoes Flauberts word gradual, comparing it to the inevitable and constant change of seasons. At the end, in the movie theater, Wendell feels that he has succumbed to nothingness, now that he is no longer a man(358). No doubt we are reminded of the reduction and end of other Oates protagonists: Elena swooning in a hotel room at the end of The Dead, Matthew being carried out on a stretcher in The Metamorphosis, and the nameless jogger dying on a hillside in Where I Lived, and What I Lived For. Even as a young man Wendell has the premonition that [l]ife will leak out of him due to lifes many scratches that he can foresee (350).

Treatment of Time
Both Oates and Flaubert show similar concerns for time as a concept. Flaubert emphasizes the importance of covering different periods in history, while Oates restricts herself to different periods in one persons life. Yet, both demonstrate how the present is no isolated phenomenon, but is inclusive of the past, as well as the future. Flaubert puts it this way: He (the protagonist) considers the past and the future as here and now. Since a fool can attain ultimate happiness, in ltat fantastique, he can perceive of the Truth, which also means that he sees all time together.40 A characteristic of the fool is that he exists in his own time bubble. This is what the dirty, humming girl does in Oatess story. She behaves as if she is out of touch with the world around her. Thus it can be claimed that the mental state of characters is reflected in their concept of time, which in turn affects the narrative. Oatess story, at times like a smoke spiral, weaves in and out of different time levels. Dream, or fantasy, is mixed with reality. In a stream-of-consciousness


monologue Wendell airs his queries, his fears, his memories, often by association. Studying his medical texts in a park, for instance, he recalls what his mother used to say about his little perfect fingers. Comparing tissue and bones, he realizes that tissue is less permanent; it can, in fact, rot, leaving you, for example, without a face. He believes that all the secrets of life will be found in his books. Optimistically he is going to learn everything and his mission is to heal everyone. He compares himself to his father, but finds that he is impatient with him (350). After this digression, there is yet another on the need for love. Then the narrative winds back to the isssue of tissue being precarious. Suddenly the girl is approaching. Wendell, who is 35, then understands that he has been dreaming himself back to the age of 23 when he was a medical student. He feels great relief knowing that he has been dreaming. At this point the filthy girl collapses and he saves her life. In another section Wendell is associating around the topic of children. His own baby is shortly due. His father is showing him a photo he has taken of a black child. Wendell cannot help feeling a stab of jealousy when seeing how carefully his father is handling it. This happens after Wendell has remembered how his father actually touched him years ago. He had also overheard him say how important it was to be in physical touch with your children. The next section begins by claiming [t]his really happened, now it is a dream (355). This technique is not unusual for Oates. She often uses an interior monologue, coupled with many questions, dashes, dots... and italics, for whole sentences or keywords. In one of his childhood memories, for example, Wendell remembers hunting and killing ants with his mother in the kitchen. He then does a comparison of his parents finding how different they are. The mother is restricted to the sphere of the home, while the father is away much of the time, called an adulterer, a strange and difficult word for the child (357). What is the connection, we ask, between killing ants and his fathers adultery? Oates furnishes us with an array of facts, emotions, events, but we must attempt to connect them into a whole. Was the mother simply taking out her frustrations and aggressions on the insects? Did the young boy understand what adultery was, or did he instinctively side with his mother? In an extended sense, how did his parents marriage affect his own ideas of love and marriage? Is that why he was not to find a partner until the age of 35?


Technically Oates has devised a typographical way of indicating some of these time shifts, or shifts from reality to dream and vice versa. As mentioned above, the word waking is used to set one section apart from the rest. The word stands alone on its line, while the next line is indented. The same technique of isolating a word is used for Doctor what is the diagnosis?(358) after his crisis in the movie house. Obviously there is no physician attending him there. This is a standard phrase that Wendell must have been asked many times by his patients. Now he must ask that very same question of himself. Oates has also devised another typographical juxtaposition that indicates a shift from one level to another, from reality to dream. These are labeled MATTER and ANTIMATTER. The first one is always placed on the lefthand side of the page, while the second is found on the right-hand side. Both are capitalized and used as headlines. Oates has physically realized on the page the fluctuations between the two stages, la vie relle and ltat fantastique, that Flaubert describes in his sketchy outline. His Tentation de Saint Antoine in fact ends in an extatic descent into the very heart of matter being matter! (276)41 These time shifts not only reflect the mental condition of the character in question. They also tie in with the central themes of change, doubleness and the gradual progression toward either a breakdown, as in Oates, or total folly, as in Flaubert. Ultimately, all these elements coalesce in the spiralling movement in the direction of infinity implied by the title itself. Yet another means of projecting Wendells breakdown is the intertextual link provided by the film that he goes to see with his wife and a Pakistani intern friend. They see Franois Truffauts Jules et Jim (1961). Not only does this particular film provide us with a French cultural connection, but its central plot is an echo of the triangular dramas in both Flaubert and Oates. Truffaut in turn based his film on a novel by Henri Pierre Roch.42 Set in Paris before the First World War, Truffauts now classic film focuses on a mnage--trois between one woman and two men. We get to follow them through the years to see how their relations change. It is the final scene where the husband, the sole survivor, is lamenting the passing of the two others that leaves a lasting impression upon Wendell. As a medical man, he

is fascinated by the bones at the end. In a cremation scene bones from the two dead bodies are ground down and placed in two different boxes, although Jules had wanted them to remain mixed and together even in death. Wendell wonders whether you could actually tell the bones apart? or why there is no reaction on the mans face (358). At this point he identifies with the bones of the dead, believing that his two companions will stare at him as if staring at bones, mere bones, seeing no value in him.... He feels reduced to nothing. His Pakistani friend shakes his head and laughs at the film. From his cultural perspective it is a foolish and strange film. Joanne reacts emotionally. She is moved: What a strange ending, after all that...all that passion (359). She might be speaking about her own (second) marriage, without knowing it.

This short title, on a par with The Dead, is in spite of its brevity filled to the brim with meaning. As Fischer has pointed out, it serves both a symbolic and metaphysical function. Briefly, it symbolizes the protagonists slow detachment from reality into spatial spheres toward infinity. It also reflects the major themes of change and gradual movement in the form of everwidening spirals. Since this was an ide fixe with Flaubert, this aspiration toward the unknown, the metaphysical implication is an intellectual ascension. Further elucidation may be sought in one of Baudelaires Petits pomes en prose, a prose poem dedicated to Franz Liszt whom he greatly admired and whose immortality he wanted to celebrate. Entitled Le Thyrse, this poem may shed some further light on the subject of spirals. Since its title was difficult to understand, Baudelaire carefully explained what a thyrse was, i e, a staff in the hands of priests or priestesses for ritual ceremonies. It is simply a hard and straight wooden stick, surrounded by garlands of flowers, thus incorporating both the male and the female principle as well as the spiralling movement. The baton is your volition, straight, firm and unwavering; the flowersthey are the promenade of your fantasy around your volition.43 Flaubert had most likely read and been inspired by Le Thyrse when it appeared in La Revue Nationale, in 1863. Reality is more of a straight, wooden and bare stick to him, while the meandering, even dancing, garlands


of flowers then would represent the beauty of dreams and fantasy. For Oates, on the other hand, Flauberts skeletal outline may appear as the bare staff, or bone, onto which she can graft her decorations, to fill out and round off, for a completed story called The Spiral. In a personal letter to me Oates explains the intra-authorial relationship as follows: The symbolism of MARRIAGES & INFIDELITIES is the marriage of the writer of male consciousness with the writer of female consciousness. As a consequence, Oates has started with the bare facts from Flauberts embryo of escape from the constraints of the real, time-bound world and shown us one contemporary mans way of reaching a transcendental realm outside of time and reality.

1 Joyce Carol Oates, The Spiral in Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 347. All future references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text. Linda Kuehl, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. In Milazzo 9. From Commonweal, 5 December, 1969. I am extremely grateful to Madame Ann Cooper who through her diligent research work in Paris put me on the right track in this matter. Marie-Jeanne Durry, FLAUBERT ET SES PROJETS INEDITS (Paris: Librairie Nizet, 1921) 20-21. Louis Bertrand, Flaubert Paris ou Le Mort Vivant (Paris: Grasset, Les Cahiers Verts, 1921) 69-74. ibid 69. My translation of the original: roman philosophique et transcendental! Translation: I confess I didnt understand it very well. E.W. Fischer, Une trouvaille, in La Table Ronde 124, April 1958: 99-124. Although this has not been verified I believe that the source referred to by Oates in her letter to me of October 24, 1998 might be Enid Starkies major study of Flaubert, Flaubert: The Making of the Master which appeared in 1967, only two years before her own Spiral appeared. This is the only work, in English, that I have found to have a brief outline of Flauberts fragment.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


10 Original: Faire un livre exaltant et moral comme conclusion prouver que le bonheur est dans limagination. 11 Original: Il est dpouill, trahi, calomni.... 12 Original: une saigne une purgation. Ainsi le rve a une influence active, moralisante, sur sa vie. 13 Translation: happiness is being a fool. 14 Enid Starkie, Flaubert: The Making of the Master (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1967) 195. 15 Paul Dimoff, Autour dun projet de roman de Flaubert: La Spirale, in Revue dhistoire littraire de la France 48, 1949: 324. 16 Victor Brombert, Flaubert and the Impossible Artist Hero, in The Southern Review 5:4, 1969, 986. 17 Dimoff 323. My translation of the original: Je porte en moi la mlancolie des races barbares.... 18 Letter from 1840 quoted in Dimoff 324. My translation: I experience nothing but immense and insatiable desires, a frightful boredom and incessant yawnings. 19 Letter to Louise Colet quoted in Dimoff 329-330. My translation of the original: ...quelque jour, en lutilisant dans un livre (ce roman mtaphysique...dont je tai parl). 20 Brombert 1969: 981. 21 ibid. 22 Dimoff 328. 23 Joyce Carol Oates, The Short Story in Southern Humanities Review 5:3, 1971: 213. 24 Charles Baudelaire, Oevres compltes de Charles Baudelaire (Paris: Ancienne Maison Michel Levy Frres, 1885) 155. My translation of the original: La vraie ralit nest que dans les rves. I am very grateful to the Ellen Key Foundation for a stipend to spend time in Ellen Keys house where I was very fortunate to find Baudelaires book in her private library. 25 Baudelaire 188. Your eyes will view infinity (my transl.) 26 Baudelaire 197. My translation of the original: une rsignation glorieuse. 27 E.W. Fischer 101. My translation: Oh! infinity! infinity! immense abyss, spiral that mounts from depths to the highest regions of the unknown. 28 ibid. My translation: the deliverance of the self,... an intellectual ascension. 29 ibid 100. 30 Dimoff 333-334. 31 Wilhelm Fischer, Etudes sur Flaubert Indits. Transl. Count Franois dAiguy (Leipzig: J Zeitler, 1908) 129-131.


32 Leif Sjberg, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, in Milazzo 105. From Contemporary Literature, Summer 1982. 33 Robert Phillips, Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction, in Milazzo 81. From The Paris Review 74, Fall 1978. 34 Correspondence to me, October 24, 1998. 35 Original: pour vivre, il change de mtiers et aucun ne lui russit. 36 Original: une occasion se prsente de faire le bien - 37 Original: Plus il sera malheureux dans le fait, plus (il) sera heureux dans le rve. 38 Original: Commencer par une action quelconque, (un procs?) qui le reporte au temps de son grand-pre. -ils sont coups par des rveils brusques, au plus beau moment. 39 Original: ...un tat de somnabulisme permanent... ...le bonheur consiste tre Fou... 40 Original: Il considre comme prsent, le pass et lavenir. ...lensemble du temps... 41 Original: descendre jusquau fond de la matire, tre la matire! 42 In a recent Dagens Nyheter article (1999), Jens Christian Brandt informs us of the real background for Rochs book. Roch had met Franz Hessel, a German author, and Helen Grund, also a German when they were all young in Paris. The two Germans married, divorced and remarried; Roch was the third partner. The movies key scene when the woman throws herself into the Seine is directly taken from their lives. All three later wrote about their threesome set-up. As an old woman Helen Grund saw Truffauts film innumerable times. Reportedly she loved Jeanne Moreau as a copy of herself. 43 Baudelaire 104-105. My translation of the original: Le baton, cest votre volont, droite, ferme et inbranlable; les fleurs, cest la promenade de votre fantaisie autour de votre volont.



Translation from the French Monica Loeb (from La Table Ronde 124 (1958) 96-98) Un unpublished work by Gustave Flaubert: The Spiral

Make a book exciting and moral as conclusion prove that happiness is in the imagination every fantastic state should be (the reward of an effort, a sacrifice) the exaggerated opposite of reality and the reward of effort, of sacrifice. The unhappier he is, in fact, the happier he is in the dream. Illusory history should border on his positive life, end up mingling with it, finally dominating it. then resolution. Preparation for the fantastic state should be undertaken slowly. he has traveled in the Orient, he has a head full of images seen or conceived. has been a painter. but gives up painting when he gets to Paris. has had a marijuana habit. But has renounced it . Soon it will suffice for him to breathe in the odor from the bottle that contains it to achieve hallucinations. Later he even attempts to do without this (effort) odor. He prepares his dreams which become regular they are interrupted by sudden awakenings when they are at their best. gradually the dreams continue in the midst of his active life. and he is in a state of permanent somnabulism when he becomes insensitive to pain. But if he is thus disposed to an ideal life and if this makes it worth while, how will he become active and devoted? Because he has an exaggerated sensibility, a great capacity for comprehension is very good, service-minded. When he does evil things, the dreams dont come. He has noted that a good act gives him great tranquillity. it is like a bleeding, a purgation. then paradise comes quite gently. and he has no other need than that for his enjoyment. Thus the dream has an active moralizing influence on his life. and life an imaginative influence on dreams. His miseries should be progressive. He is impoverished, betrayed, the object of slander, his love rejected. All his projects fail. dragged into prison, unknown, finally he is placed in a mental institution. In real life he is poor and the woman he loves rejects him...then he tries to make a fortune. she has married another. He protects her from her husband who is an idiot. he even assists her lover. ends up bringing up their child As a consequence hell look for money, have a great love jealousy. enemies a trial. Stripped of his possessions by his family. a duel. he will sacrifice himself for someone he hates. ruined.


to make a living, he changes professions and he is successful at nothing. for his real life situations must be found that are as intense as possible like dramatic and emotion(al). and in his fantasy life where hell make his greatest efforts, the most passionate fights and where all will end in success by and by. the characters will on the whole ressemble real people. thus the Mayor is a stupid official. a governor who is a conceited rogue will be a cruel and grotesque Sultan. The woman he desires -[probably] an odalisque. a national guard patrol an innumerable army marching in the mountains. a priests view makes him converse with Jesus Christ. an office manager a Turkish minister he must be very naf to describe in the fantastic state a mistress in a Persian garden. ball. a town, (country ? ) summarizing Babylonia and China. Very old, disproportioned by different areas houses on a river fisheries and palaces a woman with a snake head ( ? ) whose rear sticks out through a machiculation. a kings court. a kings son who is fencing with a monkey. a caravan that dies of thirst having lost their way in the desert. peaceful life with a Brahman a woman Pythagorean. he hears the language of animals, he pacifies all, watches the plants grow. this after studious efforts. He is poor in his fantastic life. new arrival in an unknown country and flogged. he loves the sultans daughter. she loves him too. tries to get her with great difficulty. is minister imprisoned for presenting the accounts kept. withdraws. he instigates revolts commands armies liberates the people. The Orient would not be sufficient as fantastic element, and it is placed, first of all too far away. hed have to gradually come back. Revolution. Louis XV, the Crusade, feudalism. From there the Orient then the Orient of fables. Commence by any action, (a trial?) that brings him back to his grandfathers time. he should sample all passions, even the very worst. endure the attacks of passion and triumph over himself and others. The Spiral _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ gradual ordeals The conclusion is that: happiness resides in being an Idiot (or whatever you call it) that means seeing the Truth, all time together, the absolute He considers the past and the future as here and now. He converses with the Gods and watches the eccentrics. they put him into a mental institution and there he sees no change he is loud to such a degree and recites says the Truth about Society while speaking to each one of the Idiots who each represents a different profession. there is the one who believes he is thinking like a king, the musician is also as much musician as a musician. he is thus in Truth and the Moral is that happiness is in the imagination But it has taken a long time to get to that ordeals and cultures have been required. Begin with a final letter from the hero, summarizing his views on everything and announcing his suicide. it is his will (in that letter, he tells a bit of his own story) then an opportunity to do good presents itself and the action can begin.



Thoreaus Walden Revisited by Joyce Carol Oates1

Its amazing, that Thoreau should be so totally right simplifying ones life is wonderful. Oates 2

It is the duty of a serious writer to be a witness of her time, a prayerful witness, that absorbs and then articulates the various experiences of individuals. This was stated by Joyce Carol Oates in a lecture given in Stockholm in the spring of 1980. She then also expressed the contention that she happens to be a member of a very troubled society. Hence the prevalence of violence in her fiction, a fact which she is constantly being asked to account for everywhere, except for Detroit, Michigan.3 As a consequence, it is no surprise to find a distraught, insecure character contemplating violence at the center of Oatess short story Where I Lived, and What I Lived For. The story opens with a nameless person running. The first five paragraphs all start with either I ran or I was running. They are all very brief, the very first one merely composed of I ran, but without a full stop, as if illustrating the joggers panting. Some physical details are given concerning his shoes, the path he is running on, how he is sweating, the date, which happens to be July 4, and the sudden rain shower encountered. The runner questions, in italics, whether the rain will have the power to renew him. The fifth paragraph simply sums up: I ran in a spasm of terror, once again ending without a full stop.4 Similar to several other stories in Oatess revisionary short story series, we here encounter a protagonist on the brink of a breakdown. As the title implies he is in the midst of an existential crisis where he is questioning the very quality of his life. Oates has taken her title from the second chapter in Henry David Thoreaus Walden. As it turns out she has adapted many of Thoreaus ideas, even his very words, from other chapters as well. The

aim of this chapter is to make an intertextual comparison of the two to find out what elements the contemporary writer has chosen to recycle. Although these reimaginings of famous stories are meant to be autonomous short stories, according to Oates, yet they are also testaments of [her] love and extreme devotion to these other writers. Oates goes on to say that she envisions a kind of spiritual marriage between herself and them.5 In the case of Thoreau, Oates has even published a novel retaining half the title, i e, What I Lived For (1994), that will also be included in this discussion.6 In 1854 Henry David Thoreaus second and last book appeared, entitled Walden; or, Life in the Woods.7 It is an account of his personal experiences from living alone at Walden pond from July 4, 1845 to September 6, 1847. This period of slightly more than two years has been compressed into one year in the book to provide unity which is further enhanced by the cyclical structure of seasons that symbolically traces Thoreaus spiritual quest. His aim was to live close to nature in order to reduce life to its barest essentials: I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.8
It was as an impressionable teenager that Oates first read Thoreau: [I]t is the Walden of my adolescence I remember most vividly-suffused with the powerfully intense, romantic energies of adolescence, the sense that life is boundless, experimental, provisionary, ever-fluid, and unpredicatable; the conviction that, whatever the accident of the outer self, the truest self is inward, secret, inviolable.9

For our later discussions it is of interest to note Oatess observation on the duality of human nature. But initially many of Thoreaus pithy remarks had a direct appeal to her, such as Why so seeming fast, but deadly slow? As if you could kill time without injuring eternity; Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. Thoreau as celebrant of earthly mysteries, of solitude, and change fascinated her. Repeatedly Thoreau would ask basic existential questions, such as who are we? where are we? where are we heading? with the understanding that changing, and simplifying, our lives is of the essence. What adolescent, according to Oates, would not instantly agree with the following Thoreauvian statement: I have lived some thirty years on this planet, and I have yet to hear the first syllable of valuable or even earnest advice from my seniors. They have told me nothing,


and probably cannot tell me anything, to the purpose(155)? However, her fascination for Thoreau has remained with Oates throughout the years. In 1994 she completed a play entitled The Passion of Henry David Thoreau based on his life and work. Her intention was to break through the clich of the recluse/crank/bachelor/naturalist to the man inside. In fact, she had found that his passion was to create his soul.10 Many of these questions and queries with a universal more than merely an adolescent appeal are echoed in the very title of Waldens second chapter Where I Lived, and What I Lived For. Thoreau proceeds in this chapter to describe the site where he had decided to build his simple house on Emersons land, one and a half miles south of Concord, Massachussetts. He tells us of his fascination with the water of the pond where his daily morning bath is turned into a sacred ritual, a religious excercise: Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself(132). Throughout Walden Thoreau stresses the importance of reawakening and rebirth in order to affect the quality, not only of his day, but also of his entire life. This naturally leads Thoreau onto the second part of his chapter heading, his reason for seeking solitude in the woods:
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience....(135)

He calls for simplicity of life as a contrast to the hurly-burly of life in midnineteenth century: Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? (137) One hundred and sixteen years after the publication of Walden, a short story carrying the same title as chapter two, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, appeared in the Virginia Quarterly.11 On a first glance there are more contrasts than obvious similarities between the two texts. However, the simple fact remains that both texts focus on men who are concerned with the quality of life. Thoreau speaks of the essential facts of life(135), while Oatess protagonist enviously suspects that those who are not on the run as he is himself are refined to an essence, an idea(319). Unfortunately

he himself is unable to achieve this, as we shall see. Both see water as a source of renewal, or cathartic propensities. Both seek to commune with nature. Both realize the existence of a dichotomy of nature within themselves. Still another similarity is more of a curious fact, the date, namely July 4, the day of American independence. It is the day mentioned several times by the ever-running Oatesian hero and that was of course the day Thoreau moved into his cabin on Walden pond. The implication of such a strategic choice of dates might be the need to tie the individual to a historical and national frame of reference, or to emphasize the need for personal independence. In an article from 1973 Oates claims that she in fact prefers to consider Walden as a work of psychology, i e, one mans devoted attempt at the analysis of self from a universal point of view.12 Hence, her own versions focus on mans inner life. Aside from these obvious similarities, the dissimilarities dominate. I would even claim that Joyce Carol Oatess version is a modern illustration of the hurried life which Thoreau warns against in Walden. The mood set in the first half page of Oatess story is one of desperate movement, a wish for renewal appropriately underlined by the short and jagged paragraphs, the repetition of crucial phrases and the frequent lack of full stops. In addition, there is added, as so often is the case in Oates, a note of mystery. I was running and the sudden rain passed back to me, a moving cloud of light prickling rain, scattered and abrupt as his panic(318). Whose panic? we naturally ask and keep on asking as the prounouns he or his recur throughout the story. Gradually more is divulged about the nameless running protagonist. For instance, he feels that he is imprisoned in his own body that serves as a cage, my ribs a cage, and inside, my heart was pounding to be let out! to get free!(318) This specific entrapment, as well as the more general wish to escape the constrictions of the body, to transcend into a higher spiritual sphere, become central themes. Although Thoreau also considers himself caged in relation to the birds around him, his imprisonment is not viewed as something negative but rather positive, since, at close range, he can watch live birds in nature without imprisoning them (129-30). In stark contrast to Thoreaus dinner of blackberries, Oatess man even eats on the run, suggestive of the drive-in and quick-food culture so prevalent today. Savage with hunger, he feels as if it was his body I had seized and was devouring, raw...(319). This is the storys first example of violent


fantasy, involving him. The next piece of information we are offered is the fact that the runner is a father and has a wife. The family lives in a house so small that everyone keeps bumping into each other, yet another symbol of spatial restraints. As a matter of fact, his wifes body is full of bruises, which we naturally tend to associate with their cramped home life (320), or possibly domestic violence, but a page later, they are explained as injuries suffered on the beach, when she had been dragged along the rocky bottom by a huge wave. But her bruised accusing eyes are not explained, which leaves the reader with yet another unsolved mystery. Once again in this series of short stories we are introduced to a poorly functioning marriage. Thoreau believes that by being too cramped and seeing too many people, we stumble over one another, and lose respect for each other in the process. His recommendation is that [i]t would be better if there were but one inhabitant to a square mile, as where I live(Solitude 181). Oatess protagonist is, in fact, tired of his wife and his marriage. This is how he views his wife: I could have reached into the back of her skull and come out with nothing(320). He can sense that she also wants to run, for her life away from me(320). In a whisper he expresses his wishful thinking: You can leave, youre free, but he is too bound by convention to tell her that to her face. A few pages later on, this wish is restated, this time in italics: I should have been able to see it coming, obviously. A mental collapse. Cardiac arrest. The end of a marriage (324). But this man is not only tired of his marriage, he is tired of life in general: I am so tired, so tired, it might be nearly over(324). In fact, he has felt the end coming several times, when he has been ready to give up, but has eventually bounced back, elastic and manly, to the surprise and pride of family and friends. Then one day comes when you no longer feel like bouncing back, he explains, when you are sick of being manly and brave and actually wish to welcome the end. Then you whisper to yourself, your old secret friend from boyhood: All right, thats it (325). These last five words are to be repeated as his last sigh after six careful strokes of the knife begin to unpeel his skin (325). This of course is a repetition of his earlier fantasy of making an incision at the top of his head, that time with five or six swift precise strokes before the total unpeeling of the person takes place, leaving the skin down about his feet like the pink opened useless petals of a flower(321).13 This might be seen as a way of releasing his double from the constraints of the body.14


He meets his end on a little hill out in nature. His last visual impressions are of sand, clay and deep earth colors in strange and marvelous shapes. These shapes and colors all run together as if whispering their secret, their meaning (325). To the bitter end he is searching for some meaning, which eludes him. He ends up asking a series of rhetorical questions, blaming others as well as himself, introduced by why? Why did his father not initiate him into the snares and delights of life? Why was his mother so selfish? Why were most things mysterious and disappointing to him? Why did he always reconstruct his own life, even his own doubleness? (326) His final question: Why had he been in such a hurry? appears to directly echo Thoreaus original query: Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? (137) In the more than one hundred years that have passed since Thoreau posed the question, man has not slowed down his life, but has rather accelerated it into a near frenzy. It is of interest to note that Oates in one of her articles on Thoreau emphasizes his evasive and mysterious qualities going so far as calling him the most controversial of American writers, or the supreme poet of doubleness.15 As a critic she finds him full of ambiguity, the quintessential poet of evasion, paradox, mystery (159). As an illustration she discusses his evershifting definition of Nature, at times airily Platonic, at other times minute, graphic, gritty, unsparing...Transcendentalist and sentimental, Puritan and obscene, existential and amoral, by turns (159). The doubleness that Oates sees in Thoreau and has chosen to be illustrated in her nearly schizoid protagonist springs from an incident in Thoreaus chapter Higher Laws which Oates directly quotes from in her article. One day walking through the woods Thoreau came upon a woodchuck. He then experienced a thrill of savage delight, in fact, he wanted to devour him raw, although he was not even hungry.16 As we recognize, Oates has reused these very words in her story. During a second incident in the woods, when Thoreau was actually hungry, he is seeking some venison to devour, and no morsel would have been too savage for me(Higher Laws 257). Thoreau explains through these two examples that he has found two opposing instincts in himself: one toward a higher, spiritual life; the other toward a primitive and savage one. Both are revered by Thoreau: I love the wild not less than the good(257). However, as Oates points out in her article, this particular


chapter which began as a paean to wildness ends up as a warning to his readers against succumbing to their wilder instincts, especially those of an (unmentionable) sexual character. I believe that it is this contradictory dichotomy from Thoreau that Oates has seized upon and illustrates in her protagonists interior monologue. This would explain the presence of another he, which represents another side of the main characters personality. The two are chasing, hunting each other in a real, yet symbolic, race. One senses the others terror which he recognizes in himself and identifies with. Both harbor fantasies about annihilating the other: I imagined his grabbing me, and...snapping my backbone in two...(321), and the reverse: Im still hungry-I could seize him and sink my teeth into his throat, why not? Suck his blood...(322). Yet, as these two examples illustrate, they both originate in the first person. There is never any doubt about the two being different sides, sharing fears, bewilderment and thoughts, of the same character. The Oatesian protagonist explains his own doubleness as follows:
There was always a certain mystery about me, about my skin. It was real to me and yet it did not contain me, not exactly. Thoughts and emotions and processes took place inside my skin, but I was able to stand a few feet away and watch myself, as remote from that body as I might be from any strangers body. That presence was always beside me, encouraging me, teasing me, scolding me, murmuring to me in baby talk, in secret slang how it loved me, when no one else knew me at all! The love of that other self was the only love that meant anything to me!...A spectator, only.... When it (life) ends, the spectator will walk calmly away (323).

Oates here even uses the word spectator which is recycled from Thoreaus chapter on Solitude where he defines his doubleness as a spectator who is simply noting, but not participating, in his experiences. When life, the tragedy, as he calls it, is over the spectator simply leaves the scene(180). Oates echoes this theatrical metaphor in her italicized sentences where he would dramatize this story; she calls it a tragedy as well (319). Throughout her career Oates has harbored what she calls un uncanny fascination with the doppelgnger, the darker alter ego, or identical twins.17 Her own autistic sister Lynn was born on the same day as Joyce, but eighteen


years later. While Joyce was endowed with an extraordinary gift for words and language, Lynn could master neither one. The frustration and grief of noncommunication between the sisters are touchingly described in a poem entitled Autistic Child, No Longer Child included in the collection Invisible Woman (1982). Many of the stories in Night-Side (1977) also focus on the theme of doubles, as do many short stories, such as Heat about the murder of identical twin girls, and the story Twins. In 1987 Lives of the Twins about twin brothers, both psychiatarists, named Jonathan and James (note the initial J) appeared under Oatess alter ego the pseudonym Rosamond Smith. In many of these works involving twins Oates raises the question of what constitutes a self or an identity, as she also does in Where I Lived and What I Lived For. Death, or the end of this ongoing struggle between the two selves, is foregrounded as early as the second page. At that point, the tragedy only concerns his death, but quite soon, we realize that there is also a dead marriage in focus, a frightening weariness with life, a man who is tired of his male role as somebody courageous. At one point, in fact, he is tempted to drown himself, but realizes that the water is far too shallow. Finally, on the embankment, near the railroad, which is a direct recycling of a section in Thoreaus Spring chapter (353), Oatess man faces death, hypnotized by the shapes of earth, sand and clay on the hillside, without having, or rather taking, the time to make sense of it (326). By contrast, Thoreau does exactly that and in the process acquires his particular perspective on life. Oates ends her story in the same frenzied, unpunctuated fashion that she started it, joining the two sides of her character:
I am hypnotized He will die hypnotized I will die (326)

It seems as if his life is running out, via the device of the dash, into the sand on the hillside where he is lying. It is interesting to note that the two final verbs are still in the future tense rather than the progressive form. There is no way of knowing whether he actually does commit suicide, or whether he simply lives out his fantasy, as so many times before. What is significant, however, is his feeling of an end to his life, of meaninglessness. Oates has up to this point repeated the term the end many times. Her terrified protagonists wish for a bed to re-awaken in, perhaps in a hospital,


surrounded by wife and son, his dream of a happy family, will not be granted: no human bed at all -(324) The death scene takes place in nature, on a small hill, rather than in the symbolically cramped house where he resides with his family. The initial description of nature on the hillside is quite lyrical. Oates here recycles certain words from Thoreau, such as sand of every degree of fineness, clay, like lava, little streams, coral, leopards paws or birds feet, to illustrate the pattern of thawing sand. It must be remembered that these references pertain to Thoreaus last chapter Spring, when nature renews itself and rebirth is rampant. In Oatess version the tone changes mid-sentence. The dying man begins to see human organs instead and nature takes on grotesque characteristics. Oates recycles the following words and expressions: brains, or lungs or bowels, and excrements of all kinds, [a]rchitectural foliage more ancient, ivy, vine, and finally earthy or iron colors are invoked, all running together(325). As Thoreau is witnessing this scene he feels awed, as if he were in the laboratory of the Artist who made the world and me. The patterns on the hill are proof that God is still at work, which makes him feel as if he were nearer to the vitals of the globe(354). His walks through the New England landscape signify discovery for him; Nature as well as the nature of man are revealed to him. His thoughts are his instruments of transcendence. As for Oatess modern man, his jogging activity fails to clear his mind, since when running your head is bouncing too much to contain complex thoughts(319). Contemporary man has lost his sense of closeness to nature. Instead, he feels that Nature turns against him; he fails to grasp the meaning of everything running together on that hillside. Thus, void of transcendence, the meaning of existence escapes him to the very end. This lack of meaning or substance seems reflected in the repetition of the word ordinary throughout Oatess story. The hill of the final scene is an ordinary hill in the country(326). When his parents died, he had felt guilty relief, but showed ordinary grief to the outside world (323). His wife was an ordinary woman and he himself no less average. Everything in their lives was ordinary and domestic until he became haunted by his terror (321). In a perverse way, this terror provides excitement and movement in his life, away from the fear of mediocrity. Yet, there is no hope of transcendance in the Thoreauvian sense.


In contrast, there is nothing ordinary in Thoreaus life close to Nature. He feels that every morning is a gift to him, a cheerful invitation to attain natures simplicity (132). Thoreau believes that man has the power himself to affect the quality of his own life: I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor....To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts(134). One important way of realizing that goal is to reduce the number of details occupying much of our time, making us live meanly, like pygmies we fight with cranes, simply taking on too much for our capacity. If we are to survive in the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, we must heed Thoreaus repeated chief advice, his call for Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! (135). Oatess twentieth-century man is too caught up in his chase to even hear Thoreaus call. He knows that he is seeking some better quality in life, dissatisfied as he is, but he has become too enwrapped in the running itself, like John Updikes running rabbit Angstrom, thus clouding his goal. He can sense that Nature ought to renew him. However, it is in the embrace of nature that he dies, while Thoreau gains life-spirit from the very same scene. What signifies life for Thoreau, becomes death for modern man who has not learnt to affect the quality of his day. The contrasted differences between the nineteenth-century and the twentieth-century men are distincly reflected in the styles chosen for each piece of writing. While Thoreaus prose, which Oates admiringly calls beautiful, vigorous, supple, is characterized by easy-flowing, well-constructed sentences, short and long ones alternating according to an unfolding carefully planned overall structure, the Oates story moves, in contrast, by fits and starts.18 Her frantic style includes unfinished sentences, lack of punctuation, one-sentence paragraphs, one- or two-word sentences, innumerable dashes and dots for unfinished thoughts, and many rhetorical questions. These two contrasting styles naturally reflect the respective mental states of the two protagonists. While Katherine Bastian finds Oatess style perplexing when considered on its own without elucidation from Walden, I find that it is a perfect illustration or reflection of the protagonists state of mind.19 In content as well as style, Oatess story is an illustration of the hurried, cursory, even schizophrenic, life which Thoreau repudiates. Oates seems to have used Thoreaus second chapter Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, plus other central parts of Walden, as a point dappui for a story about


a distraught modern man, on the run, bored with his life situation, in search of change or escape. When failing to find any meaning in life, or failing to affect his life quality in the Thoreauvian sense, he puts an end to his life. This is indeed a tragic statement by Joyce Carol Oates on modern life, this troubled society we live in, as she terms it, and which we have seen examples of in her revisions of The Dead, The Metamorphosis, The Spiral and The Turn of the Screw.

In the novel What I Lived For from 1994, Oates extends her study begun in the short story discussed above of a mans painful quest in the very much troubled community of Union City. On Christmas Eve eleven-year-old Jerome becomes the only witness of his fathers gruesome assassination. Although everyone knows who the murderers are, Jerome will not testify, since he is not absolutely sure of what he saw. Even at such a tender age he has an instinct for what is right, which will be his distinguishing mark till the very end. To foreground Oates has selected an epigraph from Joyces Ulysses: He rests. He has traveled. Akin to the novels title, the concluding verb form is in the past tense. Thus, once again, we are prepared for death from the very start. The novels six hundred pages span over four days, a Memorial Day Weekend, in May 1992. Jerome Corcoran has grown up into a macho, popular councilman and small-time businessman/crook, now called Corky. Similarly to Oatess earlier but nameless protagonist, Corky is also constantly on the run, but this time in a car, his Caddy. In an interview Oates has described the elation she experienced waking up one morning realizing she was going to write a novel about a man, of a certain masculinity, very macho, but also very well liked, a kind of popular man, a man who has lots of friends, a type Id never written about before.20 The resultant portrait is indeed a tour de force by a woman writer who takes us on a zigzag male odyssey from one bar to the next, from one woman to another. Corkys very special voice filled with swear-words, sexual innuendoes and invectives unfolds through his interior monologue, which one male reviewer, James Carroll, finds poignant, often hilarious, always credible, and which he defines as a kind of scat prose.21


Except for this piercing dissection of the American myths of manhood and success, the importance of family and the impact of the past on the individual are also in focus. In addition, the very genre of the novel also permits Oates to go beyond the individual and to extend her work to include a scathing study of the very decline of American society. James Carroll goes as far as calling it an American Inferno defining Oatess novel as an exemplary work of moral investigation.22 What began as a condensed, intense version in the short story Where I Lived, and What I Lived For has been deepened and developed into a lengthy novel. The central focus is still on the individual, since all of Oatess fictional works, according to herself, arise from the characters.23 The country setting has been replaced by an urban landscape. The original runner has been endowed with an automobile. Both feel they must live up to certain demands of manhood. The past will always haunt them. In the midst of family, and other relationships, both experience an utter loneliness. Relationships turn out to be shallow and disappointing. The desolation of each mans inner life is in focus, in both texts expressed through the technique of inner monologue, which takes the form of a punctured, fragmented prose, akin to scat singing. In the novel, Oates also finds space to expose in greater detail the deterioration of American society. The existential questions raised in both texts, as well as the original Thoreau text, remain unanswered by Oates, while Thoreau, in peace and contemplation, reaches an understanding of what his life is all about. Corky, in the novel, does maintain his fundamental belief in finding the truth, and a wish to do what is right, although he is, most likely, paying with his life for his principles in the end. Through the main character of the short story Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, Oates gives expression to the meanness of life that twentiethcentury man frequently, impotently, senses, but which Thoreau challenged and did transcend into sublimity. This is indeed a tragic statement by Oates on modern life, the troubled society we live in, as she terms it. In her Stockholm lecture she expressed the belief that the tragic is a very viable way of approaching the world and that she herself is in possession of a strong tragic inclination, i e, the ability to depict or articulate tragedy deeply felt by others who are unable to express it in a literary way. She feels that in tragic literature one must deal with human beings at extremes, where one can see their capacity for courage or strength, the capacity for


audacity and imagination.24 Whereas Corky Corcoran enjoys all of these qualities, our nameless jogger is relinquishing one after the other, until he meets his end. Oatess story Where I Lived, and What I Lived For is an interesting story in its own right, as a statement on modern life, symbolized by the jogger, an anonymous mans frenzied chase without goal or meaning. Unable to combine his savage and subliminal sides, he is reduced to his baser instincts of violence and depression. Only through death will he simplify his life without ascertaining immortality, which Thoreau was quite certain of. Personal relationships, including marriage and family, appear to play a marginal role in Oatess story, implying that it is up to the individual to affect the quality of his life. In this particular revision Oates has perhaps reused more verbatim vocabulary, expressions, motifs and themes than in any of the other stories. Yet this is the only story in which she develops the consequences of warnings expressed in the original. Thus Oatess Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, as well as the novel What I Lived For, illustrate, and by extension also vindicate, what Thoreau so eloquently cautioned his readers about nearly one hundred and fifty years ago.

1 2 3 4 An early and shorter version of this chapter appeared in American Studies in Scandinavia, Vol 14, 1982: 99-106. Joyce Carol Oates in a letter to Gail Godwin, September 18, 1972. Joyce Carol Oates, Lecture at the American Center, Stockholm, June 2, 1980. Joyce Carol Oates, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For in Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 318. All future references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text. Joe David Bellamy, The New Fiction, Interviews with Innovative American Writers (Chicago, Urbana, London: Univ of Illinois Press, 1974), 22. Joyce Carol Oates, What I Lived For (New York:Signet Books, 1994). In 1862 Thoreau instructed his publishers to drop the subtitle in future editions. I will henceforth adhere to that instruction.

5 6 7


Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience (New York: Penguin Books, 1983), 135. All future references to this edition will be placed within parentheses in the text. Joyce Carol Oates, Looking For Thoreau in (Woman) Writer (New York: Dutton, 1988), 154. This paper was originally given at the annual Thoreau Society conference in July 1985. Under the title The Mysterious Mr. Thoreau it has appeared in The New York Times Book Review, May 1, 1988: 1, 31-33.

10 Journal entry quoted by Greg Johnson in Invisible Writer, 379. 11 It appeared in the Autumn issue, 1970 and was later republished in the collection Marriages and Infidelities. 12 Joyce Carol Oates, Thoreau as Psychologist, page one of a three-page manuscript found in the archives at Syracuse University. Later this was published in some form in Mademoiselle 76, in April 1973. 13 There is an interesting parallel in the story entitled Scenes of Passion and Despair, in the same collection of stories. There a woman torn between husband and lover feels in a final frantic filmed scene that her skin is unpeeling, an expression of her failure to cope with reality. Someday, she knows, her skin must come loose and detach itself from her skull(165). 14 Katherine Bastian sees this as a symbolic ritual of emancipation from the circumscription of the body... Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories Between Tradition and Innovation (Frankfurt Am Main: Peter Lang Verlag, 1983) 42. 15 Oates, Looking for Thoreau, 152-3. 16 Katherine Bastian claims that Thoreau, in fact, did eat the woodchuck, only to be appalled at having done so (43), but I cannot find any support for this in Thoreaus text. 17 Greg Johnson, Invisible Writer, 362-63, or Greg Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, A Study of the Short Fiction, 113 (note 103). 18 Oates, Looking for Thoreau, 156. 19 Bastian 46. 20 Nicholas A Basbane, Oates Enjoys Her Unstable Readership in The Salt Lake Tribune, Dec 4, 1994, F4. 21 James Carroll, He Could Not Tell a Lie in The New York Times Book Review, Oct 16, 1994, 7. 22 Carrol 7. 23 Basbanes F4. 24 Oates, Stockholm lecture, June 2, 1980.



Humanity Peeled to Its Essence Metamorphosis in Kafka and Oates

Whenever asked in interviews about the influence that other writers have had on her own oeuvre, Joyce Carol Oates will inevitably mention Franz Kafka. Even as a teenager she began reading him. At first she was bowled over by Faulkner, but then she found Kafka and Kafka Ive continued to read, she states.1 In college she was Franz Kafka for a while.2 What she has learned from Kafka, in particular, is to make a jest of the horror. To take [her]self less seriously.3 By reading certain great writers she feels that, in general, she has learned how they refuse[d] to soften their vision of humanity. Yet, even including Kafka, they are by no means negative. She concludes in this particular interview by expressing the belief that Kafka is a much misunderstood writer.4 In order to somehow rectify this state of affairs Oates has published several articles on Kafka as well as her own revision of one of his best known short stories, viz. The Metamorphosis. In November 1971 a story entitled Others Dreams by Joyce Carol Oates was published in The New American Review. When republished in the collection Marriages and Infidelities the following year, the title was changed to The Metamorphosis which naturally linked it with Kafkas classic story Die Verwandlung from 1916. Before embarking on an intertextual comparison of these two texts, with emphasis on character, family constellations, similar endings and the role of metamorphosis, there is a need to survey Oatess relationship to Kafka and his writings as expressed in interviews and in her literary criticism. This will provide us with indispensable background information.

Kafkas classic short story has elicited innumerable interpretations throughout the years, ranging from an allegorical, psychological, symbolic, philosophical or religious approach to it being an expression of mans bestiality, the situation for a Jew in a Gentile world, or merely the pursuit of self. Many critics have seen Kafkas own life as a vital source for his protagonists feelings of guilt or inadequacy. Some see it merely as a treatise on existential pain and suffering.5 In sum, literary critics have had a fieldday with The Metamorphosis, being able to find anything and everything in this story. This is, indeed, a sign of provocative and excellent literature. Regardless of all possible interpretations, however, what is of essence in this chapter is to investigate those elements that Oates has selected as the major focus of her reimagined version of The Metamorphosis. In Oatess essay entitled Kafka as Storyteller, published in 1983 as preface to Franz Kafka: Collected Stories by Quality Paperback Book Club, Oates praises him above all as a superb storyteller.6 Although Kafka has frequently been considered a difficult writer, Oates on the contrary claims that he is immediately accessible, primarily because of his easily recognized familiar world and his marvelously direct and uncluttered language (WW 206). As a consequence, she feels his parables are easy to read, that teenagers love them, for instance, as she once did herself. In such stories there is no need for metaphorical language as such, since each Kafka story is a complete metaphor in itself, she claims. This easy accessibility is certainly an aspect that Oates has directly transferred to her own version of The Metamorphosis, which is also characterized by uncluttered prose, and only rare examples of similes. One aspect that she has not recycled is Kafkas famous use of shocking first sentences.7 Oates is clearly impressed by Kafkas opening sentences analyzing six such examples in one of her essays (WW 207); she also uses Kafkas first sentence from The Metamorphosis to illustrate her major point in an article entitled Building Tension in the Short Story, published before undertaking her revision.8 As we know, Gregor Samsa wakes up finding himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.9 From this starting point follows a logical, inevitable, nightmarish development. The reader is plunged into an interior landscape, which even Einstein felt was too much for the human mind to grasp (WW 208).


Yet, Oates herself does not choose to reduplicate this method. After all, who can outdo Kafka at his own game? Instead, her story begins like this: Matthew woke suddenly from a daydream that was not his.10 Although less startling, it still contains an eerie sense of mystery, which permits Oates to interject background information before proceeding with her story. Structurally, Oates finds that there are two voices present in Kafkas story: the omniscient narrator and the obsessed, perhaps mad protagonist who tells his tale in the first person (WW 217). The latter dominates The Metamorphosis with the omniscient narrator only coming in at the very end to round off the story. Oatess story is told by the omniscient thirdperson narrator, but with the addition, as will be demonstrated, of a juxtaposed point of view representing the protagonists children. The characters we encounter in Kafkas fiction are souls, which Oates explains as follows: We are always in the presence of souls humanity peeled to its essence. The external Kafkan world is seen as camouflage by Oates, mere details covering the quintessence of human existence. She does call Kafka a realist, however a realist of mystical perspective(WW 220). This is an aspect that Oates naturally identifies with, herself often being labeled a social realist whose focal interest is on the nature of personality. In one article, Oates notes how the three sections of Kafkas story all deal with the tense relationships within the family. On a literal level the question is what is going to happen to the insect-man?; and on a symbolic level, she asks: what will be the outcome of the love between members of a family when one of them is mysteriously stricken and is no longer human?11 This latter question I believe is the central focus of Oatess own revision of the story. As in The Lady with the Pet Dog and The Dead she once again examines the topic of love: this time from a special family angle illustrating a problem facing many contemporary families whose severely injured, sick or handicapped members are merely kept alive by advanced medical technology. Having depicted the physical and psychological effects of the transformation for the individual, she subsequently turns her attention to the immediate family. Unfortunately, Oates notes, too many readers and critics identify with the deluded Kafkaesque hero, rather than with the vision that Kafka sets over and against these heroes! 12 . For many readers Kafka has become synonomous with a kind of perpetual riddle, a Zen koan the ultimate, interior, soul-transforming experience...(NH 248). Since there appears to


be no solution, no way out, life is a paradox, a concept which Oates feels inevitably cripples the human spirit. To break through the paradox is to transcend the self. Naturally this is a process filled with anxiety for the individual, as we shall see, when examining the protagonists of both Kafkas and Oatess stories. Oates terms it the necessary anguish, as the ego approaches its own transcendence (NH 249). A frequently repeated word in Kafka is radiance, which can be taken as a sign of transcendence having occurred. In fact, Oates claims that [a]ll of Kafkas writings are poetic expressions of the necessity of surrender to the souls transformation, however terrifying it may be (NH 272). Kafka did not fear the loss of ego, a requirement for descending into the abyss. In his discussions with the student Janouch he states that [t]he truth is always an abyss. One must as in a swimming pool- dare to dive from the quivering springboard of trivial everyday experience and sink into the depths, in order later to rise again-laughing and fighting for breath-to the now doubly illuminated surface of things. Oates uses the above quote in one of her essays to illustrate how this is the only way, for Kafka, to enter the Void, which should not be thought of as a nightmare, but rather as the undifferentiated primary paradise itself, where good and evil have not yet been divided into opposites (NH 271-72). This is certainly a highly personal, and original, reading of Kafka, as Oates endorses that instant of a sudden obliteration of the ego, the realization of the idea of the finite self with the in-finite...(NH 249). Samsa in The Metamorphosis will in fact sacrifice, obliterate, his self for the benefit of those near and dear to him. In speaking of tragedy, elsewhere, she once again speaks of the everpresent chasm: The abyss will always open for us, though it begins as a pencil mark, the parody of a crack, the shapes of human beasts....13 In Oatess story, the encounter with the abyss does start with a crack on a desk top; In Kafka, it takes on the shape of an animal. The crucial difference, though, is that the protagonists of these two stories never surface after plunging into the abyss, but their families do, eventually even with happy faces and as their gestures imply, they are ready to carry on. Oates also invokes ancient Chinese philosophy, mainly Taoism, to explain Kafkas spirit. It turns out that Kafka owned, and must have read, nearly all the German translations of Taoist writings available, according to the student Gustav Janouch. At one time he read and discussed with Janouch the


following extracts from Chuang Tzi: Death is not brought to life by life; life is not killed by dying. Life and death are conditioned; they are contained within a great coherence(NH 257). Kafka spoke of this insight as a basic premise essential for all wisdom pertaining to life. As we shall see, it also applies to both Kafkas and Oatess protagonists. Although life and death seem to be sharp opposites, especially from the individuals point of view, they are both necessary parts of a greater harmony. The metaphysical Taoist concept that Oates believes is a particularly apt illustration of Kafkas spirit, resides in his awareness of a dominion of absolutely impersonal and incomprehensible Being over the efforts of individuals to influence it, or even to influence their own lives (NH 256). Such a notion of a deterministic world precludes any possibility for the individual, i e, the notion of free will, to change his destiny, or to improve the world. Decamouflaged, Kafkas characters simply become participants in a vast, timeless, and, indeed, indecipherable drama, according to Oates (WW 220). However, Kafkas dark vision insists upon the restoration of normalcy, what Oates chooses to call supremely ordinary life, once the individuals private tragedy runs its course (WW 215). Since Oatess fiction centers on the individual, in a sense she is obsessed with the Western myth of the ego, the ideas presented above must certainly be attractive to her. Oates argues that the greatest works of literature deal with the human soul caught in the stampede of time, unable to gauge the profundity of what passes over it(NH 104). Her characters are often victims of circumstances, caught in nightmarish situations in contemporary America. The self must battle against an incomprehensible world; there is a need to fight against the undefined Other. In an article on D H Lawrence, Oates expresses admiration for him, precisely because he exhibit[s] a deep unshakable faith in the inexplicable processes of life or fate, or time, or accident against which the individual must assert himself in a continued struggle (NH 71). Kafkas work certainly reflects this struggle between the inner, psychological, and the outer, realistic, worlds, as does his own life. He was constantly plagued by guilt feelings, especially toward his father; he had great trouble relating to women, and never married, or had children, as a consequence. Oates has made use of these facts from Kafkas life in a short story entitled The Transformation of Vincent Scoville, about a university


teacher learning to play the academic game, i e, he is selected to work on, what turns out to be, worthless papers endowed at his college. Since everyone was married at Hillbery College, he begins to feel pressured into considering marriage, but like Franz Kafka, Vincent had weighed the joys of marriage against the incontestable joys of privacy-and of course privacy had won.14 It is natural that human beings hold on to the material, graspable aspects of life, trying to ignore the inner, darker, spiritual sides of the self. As a consequence, death is mainly avoided, kept at a distance, as something unnatural, impossible to reconcile with our dream of the infinite self. The ultimate degradation of that dream is signaled in the physical breakdown of the human body, as we shall see in Kafkas and Oatess stories. In summing up this background discussion, Oates has here many times chosen to emphasize features of Kafkas vision and writing that are usually forgotten, or simply ignored.15 The Kafka not found in the fiction, his letters or his diary was what she found in Janouchs book Conversations with Kafka. Here is the other half of a human being. Reading that book has been a truly exhilarating experience, Oates concedes.16 Her revised story will serve as a literary illustration of these very ideas.

Intertextual Vincula
Oatess version of The Metamorphosis may at first seem far removed from the original story. Yet, upon close examination there are many intertextual links to be found between the two stories. First, characters, both protagonists and their families, will be compared and contrasted with special atttention given to such elements as setting and point of view. Second, the role of metamorphosis, the central subject and theme of the two stories, will be discussed. Finally, their similar endings will be examined.

Both stories center on male protagonists who are salesmen. Matthew Brown, the American, has been selling Ford cars for twenty years. He is proud of his work. At forty-six, he still feels young; he is well preserved, except possibly for the deep facial lines caused by years of smiling. His body is muscular with broad shoulders and thighs so thick they resemble trunks of small trees. His brown hair, with streaks of red in it, is always kept trimmed. He


dresses carefully, and he is a man who, over the years, has developed a great knowledge in his field. He has built up a personal relationship with many customers who return to him whenever in need of a new car. Yet, he keeps his distance, avoiding involvement with peoples personal lives. Take Hildegarde, for instance, the secretary/receptionist. He knows that she is involved in a problematic marriage, yet he does not want to know anything about it. On the whole, though, he feels that he gets along well with women, but basically he is a family man devoted to his wife and five children. Since Kafka begins his story with a fait accompli, i e, Gregor has already been transformed into an insect, we are never given a physical pre-transformation description of Kafkas protagonist. Instead, his inner thoughts and reactions to his new state provide us with a focal point. At first he does not seem to fully realize the consequences of his change. Having overslept, for example, he is seriously intending to catch a later train for work. It does occur to him to call in sick, but never having done that during his five years at the firm, he realizes that it would look suspicious indeed. His voice is also changed, he notices, as his mother is speaking to him through the locked door, and as he attempts to get out of bed, he discovers how extremely difficult it is to move and control his new body, its shape and all his numerous little legs. As the Oates story opens, we find Matthew at work in the showroom of Overmyer Ford. He is waiting for a customer who is late. It has been a slow month; his colleague Peter has not even made one sale yet. As he is sitting there at his desk, his thoughts begin to wander. His gaze begins to focus on a tiny crack in his desk top, a stream, a river...a faint lifeline he must follow... a stubborn little artery (305). It turns out that he has had a strange daydream that he senses must have come out of this crack. Although he tries to push away this dream, it insists upon coming back, acting as a premonition. It had been about sleep, a body lying very still, a kind of mummy (305). He refuses to acknowledge the dream: It must have belonged to someone else, hence the storys original title Others Dreams (306). He even makes the preposterous accusation of someone infecting him with this bad dream. Human beings can never imagine that catastrophe will hit themselves; it will always concern others and others are to blame. He manages to answer a call from a customer, automatically quoting prices and other details, while he feels he is falling, as he keeps staring at the crack. In the middle of the ensuing conversation with Hildegarde, he suddenly gets up, declaring he must go home, since he is not feeling well.


Matthew in fact does, what Gregor only thinks of doing. The receptionist is stupified, because this is completely unlike her employer. Matthew manages to drive home to his brick colonial, although he realizes his driving must be a traffic hazard, especially since his legs have grown weak. Afraid of failing to get the car into the garage, he leaves it in the driveway, with the ignition key in it. He sneaks in through the backdoor and goes upstairs to the master bedroom where he locks the door behind him. Suffocating, he tears off his clothes. He slides into bed; panic is spreading. He can hear his wife Florence calling, but he wont answer. He tries to rest, to sleep, but he keeps hearing the bustle of the children, the telephone, the television through the door. Fear and panic dominate his feelings at this point. Gregor can also hear his family on the other side of the door. They are trying to excuse his behavior, as the chief clerk has paid them a visit to find out what has happened to Gregor. He is accusing Gregor of neglecting his business duties, making a disgraceful exhibition of [him]self (17). Choosing this as the perfect moment, he also informs him that lately his work has been most unsatisfactory (18). Beside himself, Gregor tries to defend himself, without realizing that his speech is so garbled that he can no longer be understood. At that point the doctor is sent for. Matthew is left to his own devices in the bedroom for the night. Once again he awakens from dreams that are foreign to him. Perhaps they belong to Florence, these ugly dreams, depicting him as a flabby, old, ugly mummy? Just like Gregor, he has trouble accepting his physical change, or foreseeing his own old age, including corporal decay and disintegration, leading to an eventual death. His reflections in bed alternate between his family and his work. Clinging to his professional identity, he gets the preposterous idea that he can perhaps conduct business by phone from his bed. Car terms race through his head. Yet, at the same time, he begins to feel free, independent, of his customers; he has grown beyond them (310). As far as his marriage is concerned, he feels, with hindsight, that there has been an oxymoronic enormous distance of inches between Florence and himself (313). While Matthew is philosophizing in bed, the door is unhinged by his eldest son, Len. The doctor arrives. Matthew tries to respond to Dr Crane but fails, in spite of the fact that he certainly knows very well that [c]ommunication was the first step in sales, in civilization itself (312).


After four days, Mr Overmeyer, his boss, comes to visit, which is a direct parallel to the chief clerks visit at the Samsa household in Kafkas story. These visits once again reinforce the significance of a professional identity for these men. To make matters worse, yet another visitor, Matthews mother, also arrives on the scene to remind him of his duties as a son and father. Finally, after an unspecified time, Matthew is removed from the house, carried out on a stretcher, for hospitalization or institutional care, it is assumed. Theres nothing else to do, according to the doctor. Pathetically, he is debating, to the very end, whether they will let him drive his own car, although his legs feel strangely shortened, very limp (316). Gregor, on the other hand, is disposed of in the garbage, after he himself realizes that there is no longer any need for him within the family. Both men are consciously aware of the world around them. They both still define themselves through their professional identities. They have been hard workers, fulfilling their duties to their families. Gregor not only supports his parents and one sister, he also pays off a debt to his employer incurred by his parents. Although proud of providing such a good life and such a large apartment for them, Gregor curses his work conditions, especially all his travels, whereas Matthew, equally proud of doing his duty vis--vis his large family, feels he is living under a certain pressure. Through indirect hints, we can understand that the American car dealer is constantly pressured into selling enough in order to support his family. One such indication is that his wife, always on the look-out for a bargain to make ends meet, is, for example, handy at the sewing machine making cheap fishnet curtains. By placing major emphasis on Matthew in his role as a father, Oates has performed a role reversal from the original story. Whereas Matthew is a devoted family man, Gregor is the responsible son who stays home and cannot choose a life of his own until his duty is done. This was probably a common situation in continental Europe at the beginning of the last century. But in present-day Western or American society such a family situation would be highly unusual. Hence, Oates centers on an ordinary middleclass suburban family. Having undergone metamorphosis both protagonists withdraw, or are forced to remain in their bedrooms. In Gregors case he is chased back, like an insect, to his room by his insensed father. On the one hand, metamorphosis necessitates their isolation; on the other, their withdrawal from taxing daily duties and demanding families is also made perfectly legitimate.


Matthew, for his part, is preparing to leave this existence: The world was busy and it wanted nothing so much as to drag him out into it, sweep him along the river where he would be lost, in all that shouting, that busyness...(311). Instead, he is resting peacefully in bed, thinking warmly of his love for the children. When his possessive mother arrives on the scene, he can no longer hear her; her words eluded him(315). Both Gregor and Matthew, lacking in insight, make concerted efforts for quite a while to live on in their professional roles, since that appears to be the only kind of existence they know of; unrealistically they intend to do business, ride trains, or drive cars, which appears quite ridiculous in their physical states. When they can no longer perform their roles as providers and salesmen, there is no place, or need, for them in their families either. It turns out that the Samsas have been quite crippled or, in any event, have become spoiled and lazy, by Gregors benevolence and hard work. Through his metamorphosis and subsequent removal, they all become quite active. The Browns also manage to survive by mobilizing their inner strength and resources.

At first, both families are shocked by the metamorphosis of their men. Gregors mother faints among her outspread skirts (21), while the father knots his fist upon seeing his son, then breaks down in tears, covering his eyes with both hands. The seventeen-year-old sister is the one who cares for him, testing various kinds of food to see what he can eat, for instance. Her initial reaction, however, when first seeing her brother as beetle is one of shock; she slams the door shut, but, out of compassion, she opens it right away again; thus begins her sisterly care.17 Routinely Gregor had also locked his bedroom door at first, but he does manage to unlock it with his jaws. Even as a beetle, he seeks contact with his family. Unable to recognize or accept his new self, Matthew shamefacedly prefers to keep his door locked. His family is also bewildered. At first there is a mystery, a break-down of routines: why has he come home too early, why has he left the car outside, why has he locked the door, why doesnt he answer? In this way, both men have drastically and inexplicably broken against their own rules of conduct, which require them to place work and family first.


Gradually, family reactions undergo changes from the initial shock and mystery to disgust. Both men begin to stink. Matthews eldest daughter, Vicky, who is sick to her stomach, believes that she takes the stench with her to school. The children react differently to seeing the bedpan, to hearing their mother cry, and to what they see as the flabby lips, the raspy breathing emanating from the creature in bed. Ronnie is particulary embarrassed when collecting money on his paper route as all adults want to know how things are at home. Finally he decides: The hell with Father: let him stink (315). Structurally, Oates has employed a technique of shifting point of view to juxtapose the reactions of the family. Clearly indicated in italics, either as single sentences or whole paragraphs, we can follow how the children react:
Mother, Len, and Vicky fed him. The doctor showed them how. The rest of us were kept downstairs. Bickering. Tommy throwing himself around. Ronnie yelled: Goddamn you little bastards! I could kill you! Father upstairs, drooling. The best thing to feed him, Dr. Crane said, is baby food. Why not? He did not spit the food out, but some-times it came back out by itself (315).

The pronoun frequently used is we, or one of us, making it difficult to know who the speaker is. In the above example, however, it must be Sally, by method of elimination. Otherwise the plural we represents a collective point of view for Len, Vicky, Ronnie, Tommy and Sally. By using italics Oates expands on the double point of view already present in Kafkas story. Gregors own third-person perspective dominates most of the narrative. After his expiration, however, an omniscient narrator takes over for the remaining few pages. According to Oates in Kafka as Storyteller, this is a typical pattern for most of Kafkas stories (WW 217). Such a double perspective also reflects and reinforces the existence of personal, inner worlds contrasted to the outer, physical world. Kafka is always portraying people who, as one critic puts it, have a fragile relation to the world around them.18 Both Kafka and Oates are mainly concerned with the individuals psychological crisis; yet, both stories also incorporate realistic details and settings. There is a gradual breakdown in the families tolerance of their incapacitated men. Gregors father, in a humorous scene, throws an apple at his son, thus causing an infection. Symbolically and ironically, this may

also be interpreted as his expulsion from their little family paradise. His sister, who was his confidante and defender at the outset, finally gives up on him, suggesting that they try to get rid of the creature she no longer will call by name: If this were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that human beings cant live with such a creature, and hed have gone away of his own accord(57). Hearing these words Gregor realizes what he must do. Matthew is in no position to make such a choice. Together with the doctor, his wife decides to remove him from the family. Ronnie had by then threatened to set his bed on fire to get rid of what he calls that big worm, which is the only direct reference linking Matthew to Gregors animal state (315). Whereas Gregor is dealt his final coup de grace by being thrown into the garbage by the cleaning woman, who had called him dungbeetle (49), Matthew will most likely end up in an institution, with death as either an imminent or long-term prospect. The fate of the two protagonists naturally raises the delicate question: what happens to people who no longer function, professionally or familywise, as human beings in society? What happens to the family structure or the love once taken for granted among family members? Both protagonists initially struggle against physical corporeal change and deterioration, but will acquiesce as they realize defeat, signaling acceptance of the fact that death is also a natural and necessary part of life.

The above quoted references to animals, vermin, beetles, worms, indicate a subhuman form assumed by these characters who are no longer fit for the human community. According to Wilhelm Emrich, Kafkas frequent animal figures represent the subliminal dreamlike world, the state of man before he thinks, that part of him that is prehuman and early human, a part that is always present along with everything else within his soul.19 In other words, this is not only a pre-human state but one that is latently omnipresent, a stage which can be reverted to at any time, as the two stories indicate. Ovid (43BC 17 AD) is the first known writer of many to have used the theme of metamorphosis extensively as a means of connecting some 250 myths and legends in his 15-volume collection entitled Metamorphosis.20 In its very first line he informs us of his purpose, which is to tell of bodies transformed into various shapes, such as birds, trees, stars, even gods, and


beasts. Ocyrhoe, for instance, is transformed into a horse right in the midst of prophesying. Ovid seems to embrace the idea that fate, as immutable force, works through our own natures and inner compulsions. However spectacular metamorphosis must be seen as a natural part of an ever-changing universe. In the light of such a philosophy, dying then merely signals a change into a new form. Oates has also elsewhere shown interest in the subject of metamorphosis. In a poetry collection published a few years after The Metamorphosis, she has included an entire section, 14 poems under the heading Metamorphoses, which treats various transformations through love, fever, addiction, spectres/ demons, and nature. Even an abandoned airfield is reported to have undergone drastic changes in the process of history and time. However, most of the poems deal with the mysterious metamorphoses of self in life and death. The title poem invokes the death of a helpless 70-year-old woman lying on the ground one hot July morning. She is losing her grip on life, but manages nevertheless to ask: What is given us,/ what is good? Oates here echoes her belief in affirmation and the continuity of life, when the dying woman knows that the night of her death/will be like any other in the neighborhood,/like any other.21 Although Kafka is the only one to intertextualize the dramatic Ovidian metamorphosis of man into beast, both Kafka and Oates, rather than merely focusing on the individual, seem to emphasize the wider implications and effects of change in general, upon family and environment, with the aim of pointing to a continued life for the immediate family rather than for the protagonist. The dream this state when we are all freed of our daily chores apparently serves as a necessary prerequisite for a metamorphosis in both stories. Matthew wakes from a daydream that later on plagues him again. Gregor Samsa also wakes up one morning from uneasy dreams. Through a dream state both men thus gradually distance themselves from their ordinary lives, in a sense foregrounding events to come. Even as a beetle Gregor seeks transcendence, that radiance so often mentioned in Kafka, a yearning for the innermost self. Perhaps this is possible through art, since when hearing his sister play the violin, he senses that unknown nourishment he craved(53). The hero must die, Oates says of Kafkas mythology, in order that a transcendence may take place that is somehow exterior to him (NH 252). As we shall see, this will occur in both stories, as an affirmation of life, in spite of spectacular changes.


Both these characters have been shockingly transformed in a physical sense. Bodily functions have been lost. Legs have weakened in both cases. Samsa, in addition, has developed multiple legs. The ability to speak, traditionally the demarcation line between human and beast, has been lost. The central questions seem to be: How is it possible and why does a transformation occur? How can such ordinary men be victimized, even Matthew whose very name indicates that he is a gift of God? After Gregors death and Matthews removal (and eventual death), their families will be transformed to complete the metamorphosis, as will be seen in the similar endings.

In the end, both stories bring us out of these confined chambers into the warm sunshine. Those who have cared most for their brother or husband, Grete and Florence, the women in the stories, have eventually transcended their hardships, tears, and sorrows. The women, and the families, complete the metamorphosis initiated by the men. One of Florences first acts of independence is to purchase a new bed, in a way symbolically replacing their marital bed. As the children come home from school one day, in the Oates story, they find their mother, whose very name is closely associated with flowering and blooming, dressed in a gaily colored dress, digging in the garden. There is an earthy smell in the hot, sunny garden among all plants and weeds. The story ends in a very simple way by the mother opening her arms to embrace the children. At the end of the Kafka story, the Samsas have also left their confined space. They are on the tram heading out into the countryside. The sun is shining there as well. They feel confident about their lives when thinking about the future. They are making plans to move, to find better jobs and eventually to find a husband for Grete. Their dreams and aspirations seem confirmed by Grete at the end of their journey, when she joyously springs to her feet and simply stretches her body, a seemingly small gesture, but nonetheless an open-ended indication, later echoed in Oates. By these small gestures, both women, to some extent assisted by the warm sunshine, reflect Kafkas radiance, the completion of the metamorphosis begun in fear and bewilderment, yet ending on a note of hope while pointing forward. It is significant that, in this case, both life-promoters are women. As Oates has pointed out The Metamorphosis is not concerned solely with Gregor Samsa,


but with a metamorphosis that includes and transcends him(NH 254). After the individuals tragedy has run its course, life for both families has returned to normal, to what Oates calls supremely ordinary life...(WW 215).

The precariousness of human existence is at the center of these two stories. No one can possibly know what tomorrow brings. One day we are in excellent health, next day we might be struck by lightning, hit by a car or transformed into a beetle. This is the major idea from Kafkas story that Oates seizes upon. Both writers focus on the psychological impact of such a sudden transformation, from a personal as well as family point of view. Oates chooses to further emphasize the familys reaction by creating an alternative point of view that stands out on the page in its italicized form. Although Kafka is known for his elements of horror and surrealism, Oates elects to deemphasize them. Instead, she constructs quite a realistic, traditional background for her protagonist. Nor does she reduplicate Kafkas startling first sentence or his humorous passages. What Oates does is to emphasize her interpretation of the extended metamorphosis which goes beyond the mere individual. She sees the metamorphosis as a visionary transcendence, in fact, an affirmation of life. As their stories demonstrate, Kafka and Oates seem to share certain views on the role of the artist, i e, that it is the responsibility of the artist, through his very art work, to illustrate, as Oates puts it: how to get through and transcend pain.22 Hence, the sunny warm endings of both stories showing how life goes on in spite of personal tragedies. One critic feels that both the world and the family remain unaltered in Kafkas story.23 Nothing could be further from the truth, as far as the family is concerned. The father, who was believed incapable of working, has found employment. The same goes for Grete who has become a sales-girl learning French and shorthand in the evenings. The mother, finally, is doing sewing for an underwear firm. They are planning to move into a smaller apartment, not chosen by Gregor. As they canvassed their prospects for the future, it looked promising indeed (62). This is the positive idea that Oates finishes off her story with as well. Perhaps not in so many words. Yet, the tears are gone. The sun is out.


Florence is returning to life, cultivating the soil and opening her arms for the children. Both families have learned to deal with the pain of losing a brother or father, their respective breadwinners. They have had to accept metamorphosis as an inherent part of every-day life. Perhaps the horrors are not exactly turned into jest, but into rather careful smiles. The Taoist idea of incomprehensible Being is recognized as part and parcel of the human condition. Many narrative details from Kafka have been recycled by Oates, such as the origin in dream, the focus on men wrapped up in their sales careers, but who feel a heavy, stifling duty toward the family. They are both locked into a limited world, unable to see beyond it, estranged as they are from their inner selves. When an incomprehensible change comes over them, they withdraw from work and family. They lock their doors upon themselves. They lose their human traits, begin to smell, and are reduced to the kind of subhuman helpless creatures that we today call vegetables. Ultimately, communication breaks down. Their families react similarly with initial shock, dismay, eventually with repulsion. Gregor realizes this and understands he must die, sacrificing himself, whereas Matthew gains only a partial insight and must be disposed of. We realize that this is what Oates calls humanity peeled to its essence, as we witness the terrifying transformation of a human being, when the private tragedy runs its course. Although both writers focus on the individuals gradual breakdown, they also develop their stories into an emphasis on the ensuing effects on the members of the immediate family and their eventual transcendence.


1 2 3 4 5 6 Walter Clemons, Joyce Carol Oates at Home in Milazzo, 5. See interviews with Frank McLaughlin, 123, and Paul D Zimmerman, 15. Robert Phillips, Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction in The Paris Review, Fall 1978: 373; also reprinted in Milazzo. Leif Sjberg, An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates in Contemporary Literature, Summer 1982: 110. Please see Stanley Corngold, The Commentators Despair (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1973) for over 100 different interpretations. Kafka as Storyteller was reprinted in Joyce Carol Oates, (Woman) Writer Occasions and Opportunities (New York: Dutton, 1988) 205-224. Subsequent page references will be placed within parentheses preceded by WW in the text. Nor does she choose to include Kafkas elements of humor. That is why I can agree with Ronald De Feo in his statement that Oatess people are humorless, but I disagree with his sweeping judgement that her characters should be terribly onedimensional and unbelievable. De Feo, it turns out, has, unfortunately, completely missed the intertextual link to Kafkas story. See Ronald De Feo, Only Prairie Dog Mounds in Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates, Linda Wagner, ed.(Boston: G K Hall, 1979) 31. Joyce Carol Oates, Building Tension in the Short Story in Writer 79, June 1966: 12. Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis and Other Stories, transl. Willa and Edwin Muir (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1961) 9. Subsequent references will be placed within parentheses in the text. It is interesting to note the various translations of ungeheures Ungeziefer . Wilhelm Emrich speaks of a beetle (136); Stanley Corngold uses the terms vermin (34) or verminous bug (3); Kurt Weiz calls him a putrid louse (241 in Corngold); Edward Sackville-West and others simply use the term bug; Paul Landsberg is more specific in using colopteron (156 in Corngold). Kafka himself refused to have the story illustrated by any concrete representation. Thus, his intention of keeping the term vague, in view of the fact that Ungeziefer can be used of any low or contemptible creature, is maintained by Oates who chooses not to specify either. 10 Joyce Carol Oates, Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 303. All subsequent references will be placed within parentheses. 11 Oates, Building Tension, 12. 12 Joyce Carol Oates, New Haven, New Earth. The Visionary Experience in Literature (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1974) 253. Subsequent page references to this text will be placed within parentheses preceded by (NH). 13 Joyce Carol Oates, The Edge of Impossibility: tragic forms in literature (New York: Vanguard Press, 1972) 8.

8 9


14 Joyce Carol Oates, The Transformation of Vincent Scoville in Crossing The Border (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1976) 148. 15 As a consequence, she has been criticized for doing so. Joanne Creighton calls Oatess version inferior to Kafkas masterpiece, since the former sacrifices the horror and fascination by turning the phantasmagoric into the realistically credible. See Joyce Carol Oates (Boston: Twayne, 1979) 132. 16 Transformation of Self: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates, in Milazzo, 55. From The Ohio Review, Autumn 1973. 17 Kafka was very fond of his sisters. One of them apparently served as model for Grete in The Metamorphosis, according to Gustav Janouch, 125. 18 Corngold 193. 19 Wilhelm Emrich, Franz Kafka (New York: F Ungar Pub Co, 1969) 141. 20 See Reference Guide to World Literature, Vol 2, sec ed. (New York: St James Press, 1995) 896-901. 21 Joyce Carol Oates, Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978) 26. 22 Joyce Carol Oates, The Unique/Universal in Fiction in Writer 86, Jan 1973: 11. 23 Katherine Bastian, Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories Between Tradition and Innovation (Frankfurt Am Main: Verlag Peter Lang, 1973) 29.



Joyce Carol Oates and Henry James The Turn of the Screw Times Three
The ghosts scarcely exist Edvard Munch

There are few literary works that have solicited such diverging discussions and speculations as Henry Jamess classic novella The Turn of the Screw. Gerald Willen even goes so far as speaking of a group of exclusive literary works, including James Joyces Ulysses, that become industrialized.1 At first Jamess story was seen as a ghost story about two children possessed by two deceased servants. Then it was analyzed in Christian terms of good and evil, seen as a rejection of American Puritanism, or simply as a hoax. With the spread of Freudian symbolism it was seen as a case study of a neurotic,lonely, sex-starved governess, an account of her hallucinations or a projection of her inner terrors. It was even considered a projection of the authors own obsessions and haunted mind.2 More recent research has centered on aspects of child sexuality, pedophilia erotica, gender and class. T J Lustig has termed the situation for both the governess and the critics an epistemological whirlpool where in fact no solutions are in sight except achieved through interpretative violence.3 Joyce Carol Oates has provided us with two such interpretations in the form of two revised short story versions: The Turn of the Screw and The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly. How can one piece of work attract such widely differing, sometimes diametrically opposed, interpretations? I believe Henry James must be credited with, rather than criticized for, the creation of a work that can be approached and viewed from so many angles. His very way of telling the story via Archbishop Benson,


who had supposedly told James the story personally, and Douglas who reads the story to the upper-class party assembled at Haddon Hall, and finally the story itself written down by the woman who had been Douglass sisters governess is an invitation to many interpretations. Through these various links and levels no clear, direct or simple story-line is created. Instead, the field is left wide open for ambiguity, which of course has become one of Jamess best known trademarks. Oates so aptly sums up Jamess story in handwriting on the back of a small note in the archival file for Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly: No tale more clotted & confused!4 The Turn of the Screw originally appeared in installments in Colliers Weekly from February to April 1898; it was later that same year published in Great Britain in a volume entitled The Two Magics which also contained another story. Although James tended to belittle his story by calling it a piece of mere ingenuity, cold artistic scheming, an amusette... essentially a pot-boiler and a jeu desprit, it quickly became one of his most popular stories.5 As Jamess story opens there is a group of listeners gathered in an old English country house all bent on dreadful ghostly tales. Douglas then proceeds to tell them the story written down by his own sisters governess. As it unfolds we learn that this woman has been offered a position as governess for a handsome and bold and pleasant, off-hand and gay and kind...gallant and splendid bachelor whose orphaned niece and nephew live on his estate in Essex (J 9). She accepts the offer of employment, although she is mysteriously completely in charge, in fact forbidden to contact the uncle at any time. She proceeds to tell the story in the first person. Upon her arrival in Essex she is impressed by the place and especially by her little ward, Flora. Her first shock comes when she finds out that the little boy, Miles, has, for dubious reasons, been dismissed from his boarding school, and that he will also be in her care at Bly. Gradually the happy, enthusiastic mood at the outset is transformed into mystery, fear, and finally, terror. The governess is visited by visions of either a red-haired man or a woman. The latter turns out to be her predecessor, Miss Jessel. The man is Peter Quint, also a former employee at the house who had had an affair with Miss Jessel. The latters unexplained death appears to be linked with Quint. In the end, the governess believes the children are possessed by these haunting spirits and she decides to fight for her charges. Little Flora is sent away with the housekeeper, while Miles is kept under her own vigilant eye. In a final visitation, the eighth one, Peter Quint appears


and seems to have won the battle, since the story ends when the boys little heart, dispossessed, had stopped(J 160). Such a story filled with mystery, unanswered questions, ghosts, would naturally hold an attraction for Joyce Carol Oates who herself often infuses her fiction with notes of mystery and uncertainty, so that the reader is not unequivocally sure of what happened. In fact, Oates has produced two short stories based on Jamess The Turn of the Screw. The first one, retaining the same title, first appeared in 1971 in The Iowa Review,6 and was then collected in Marriages and Infidelities in 1972. Since this is the story that is part of Oatess reimagined series of short stories I will devote most of this chapter to it. However, I will also include a discussion of a second and more recent version entitled The Accursed Inhabitants of The House of Bly. It is one of the stories in the collection Haunted, Tales of the Grotesque from 1994.7 This time, told from the point of view of the ghosts, Oates attempts to make much explicit of what is ambiguous in Jamess original story. As has already been pointed out James has set the scene for intertextual linkages by using several narrators. His own story also alludes to the governess tale par excellence, Charlotte Bronts Jane Eyre (1847), which is also about a poor governess in charge of children on a beautiful English country estate. She as well falls in love with her sympathetic employer. In Oatess The Turn of the Screw yet another strong intertextual link is established to Thomas Manns Death in Venice (1912), as will be shown shortly. Oates has also, in other contexts, and in other sources, made statements about Henry James, which will duly be taken into consideration. All taken together the various texts treated in this chapter will indeed create a multi-layered intertextuality.

Bournemouth, England: Oatess The Turn of the Screw

It is of interest to note that Oates was on a sabbatical leave in England 1971-72, when she most likely was writing her version of The Turn of the Screw. It is the only one among her reimagined stories to be set outside the US. As is well known Henry James moved to the British Isles in 1876 where he remained until his death in 1916. At first there seems to be little in common, excepting the British setting, between Henry Jamess story and the one written by Joyce Carol Oates


some 80 years later. Her version is quite innovative, even experimental in its layout; in its use of the diary form it can be labeled a true Victorian clich. We are presented with two stories running parallel, that is, each page is divided into two columns in the form of diary entries by two different men. One of them is a young American who is travelling with his aging uncle. Weary of his uncle, he wishes death on the old man, while simultaneously fearing solitude. One day he meets a girl on the beach. This meeting is observed by someone who starts to write anonymous letters to him. He begins to feel observed wherever he goes and he also feels haunted by these letters. We get an insight into the thoughts, qualms and fears of this [d]utiful nephew to a sick man, as he calls himself.8 The other, parallel story is told by an elderly man, in fact, the very person who is spying on the young American. He is from London and has spent a month and a half at a sea resort,[d]ying by the sea, as he states by the third paragraph (O 363). Dark-ringed about the eyes with failure(ibid), [s]leepless. Preoccupied. Idle..., he feels his entire life is something to be flung down, forgotten(O 367). He is immediately attracted to the redhaired young American: My senses stung at the sight of him -(O 364). He witnesses the meeting between the twelve- or thirteen-year-old girl and the man of thirty in the thickets on the beach. The girl becomes aware of the observer and tears away. The old man is entirely preoccupied with thoughts of the young one. He even sees the others face mirrored in his own reflection (O 366). At night, he is sleepless. Finally, he obtains relief, [f]everish and very happy, having written some unsigned letters to Patrick Quarles II (O 373). When catching a glimpse of the Quarles suite of rooms, he is psychedelically elated at his strange heedless presence everywhere...(O 369). His ultimate moment of bliss is experienced when the young man turns around on the beach and simply looks up at his balcony. He then suddenly feels animated through the other man: I am alive in him and dead, dead in myself(O 368). Are these two stories really related by any other means than merely the title, and an English setting? Indeed, they seem totally different at first: two distraught men at a sea resort, and a governess and two children seeing ghosts on a country estate. However, upon closer examination we will find that there are many parallels in date, setting, theme, subject, character, mood, treatment of point of view, and style of writing. To begin with Jamess story was published in 1898. Oates dates her story indirectly by making references


to Victorias Jubilee, which took place in 1887. Both are set in southern England, one in Essex and the other at Bournemouth. In the following I will concentrate on those elements, i e, ghosts, biography, eros, thanatos, ambiguity and point of view, that Oates has chosen to recycle from James.

Ghoulish Elements
As for subject matter, ghosts and hauntedness appear in both stories. In the modern version, the young American feels watched and finally haunted by the anonymous letters he receives. After the third letter he asks: Are there spirits, ghosts?(O 377). Having opened the fourth one, he strolls on the beach thinking: A voice has spoken. I know there are ghosts. I understand them. I feel them in this medieval town, on all sides of me, harsh and innocent with their cold piercing eyes and their victories...(O 378-79). The specters in James have been exchanged for anonymous letters in Oates. Joyce Carol Oates has rather chosen to emphasize her characters inner fears of being haunted. Jamess governess does see real specters, but even in her experiences there is an inner horror, although merely implied, perhaps caused by what Edmund Wilson terms one of Jamess familiar themes: the frustrated Anglo-Saxon spinster.... According to his Freudian theory the governess is simply having hallucinations due to sexual repression and unreciprocated love from her handsome employer.9 Jamess original idea of a haunting presence has, to a limited extent, been retained by Oates in the actions of the elderly man who also qualifies as a spinster, or rather bachelor. Oates, however, focuses her attention on the inner specters of her two male protagonists, both haunted by various memories and fears. While the young man perceives a presecence, the old man is possessed by his fears of death, failure and madness:
At the bottom of my soul it squats, like that dwarf of a demon: the fear that I am mad, evil, reckless, sick, corrupting, contaminating, loosed, formless, sucking like the waves here upon the packed sand, desolate, inexhaustible, damned....(O 372)


These memories of his fathers fits of madness haunt the old man. Will he also succumb to such madness? As this quote shows, this fear is constantly preying upon him.

Biographical Elements
Oates has doubtlessly been inspired by Jamess own life and has then intertextualized it into this homage to him in the form of a short story. Not only does she choose to focus on an elderly, single writer of American origins who finds himself in England where he feels his creative powers are waning, but she also includes these scenes of apprehension of inherited madness. As one critic clearly states about The Turn of the Screw: James has turned his autobiography into a ghost story.10 It is a known fact that there had been some visitations and signs of psychological instability in the James family. The novelists father had experienced a frightening visitation, a vastation, as he was to call it in Swedenborgian terminology, which took him two years to get over. Jamess elder brother, William, while studying at Harvard, entered into a deep depression during which he also experienced a visitation. He was filled with such fears of being alone and of darkness that he awoke every morning to terror. Their sister Alice had a series of nervous breakdowns, and later came to live with Henry James in London. Oscar Cargill even suggests that The Turn of the Screw is basically about Alice.11 All three instances of family madness were recorded either as a disguised case history as in Williams case, or in a diary by Alice, or in autobiographical writings by the father.12 There is no doubt that Henry James was familiar with and interested in the subject of visitations, especially their psychological implications. As a consequence, the theme shared by both authors is the fear within us all. The old master illustrates this in more concrete terms, while the younger author places major emphasis on the inner fears dominating her characters, although she also chooses to retain some tangible signs of being haunted. It is curious to note in this connection that Oates in fact employs the rare word vastation in her story to illustrate the old mans feelings of devastation, not only all around him, but also within himself (O 377). This is certainly an eerie echo of the elder Jamess Swedenborgianism. As a matter of fact, another story by James seems to have provided Oates with the skeletal outline for her The Turn of the Screw. Set in Bournemouth,


The Middle Years (1893) is a story about two men: young Dr Hugh and the old ailing writer Dencomb.13 Akin to so many Jamesian male artists in their middle years Dencomb, feeling unsuccessful and lonely, is also awaiting his redemption. He is constantly asking for a second chance at his art. It turns out that his latest, and most likely last, novel The Middle Years will serve exactly that purpose. Dr Hugh becomes that yearned-for reader who will give meaning to his art so that he can die in peace. In slightly homoerotic terms James depicts a passionate relationship between these two men. As in Oatess story one is a moribund elderly writer and the other a young life-giver. In her 1994 Ben Bellitt lecture entitled The Life of the Writer, the Life of the Career, which is generally on the topic of art and aesthetics, she uses Jamess story as her final demonstration of what she calls The Madness of Art, a quote from the very story.14 In her analysis of the story she in fact calls it a marriage, a strange marriage of artist and greatest admirer (20). In terms of myth she can see a ritual sacrifice of the elder in his passing on of potency to the younger. The Middle Years with its alluringly red(136) cover then becomes the symbolic representation of what Oates considers male sexual potency, the very gift of life. Doctor Hugh thus becomes more of a spiritual healer than a mere physician. His very name, an echo of the general you, signifies for Oates any artists absolute need for an audience, preferably enthusiastic and palpable, in order to simply commune and thereby be redeemed (20). Oates seems to have combined the basic story of Jamess The Middle Years, its theme of the artists loneliness and his anxiety over the reception and value of his art, with many central elements from The Turn of the Screw as well as biographical details from Jamess life into her own Turn of the Screw.

If The Middle Years in Oatess view is a homoerotic/mythic vision with only a marginal role assigned to unattractive, either obese or vicious, women, then Jamess The Turn of the Screw depicts a wider and more complex range of love relationships. Many critics share the view that love is at the very center of Jamess ghost story.15 There is love between the ghosts, between the governess and the children, between the ghosts and the children, and love at a distance between the governess and the bachelor uncle. Miss Jessels death is never explained by James, only alluded to. Was it related to her


scandalous affair with Peter Quint? What both authors share as subject matter concerning love is the problematic relationship of the main characters to the opposite sex. Oatess young man certainly appears to have mixed and conflicting feelings toward the opposite sex. Whereas the governess embraces a romantic schoolgirls view of her employer after just the one meeting, the young Patrick does have an encounter with a girl on the beach. There is a peculiar parallel of names in the two stories, since Peter Quints initials are repeated in those of Patrick Quarles, who, in addition, attaches II to his name. We get a detailed description of the girl and Patricks own reaction to her reflected in a disjointed style characterized by short phrases, alliteration, repetitions, colons and dots:
Stinging film over my heart is pounding violently.... Around us on the beach: no one. Empty. Heart pounding, temples pounding, a dense dewlike moisture on every part of my body, cold and slick as fog, my insides in pain....(365)

Nothing much happens, the girl runs away having seen their observer. What would have happened if they had not been noticed? Had he intended to rape her there on the deserted beach? His worked-up condition and many sexual references to her body point to that. Afterwards he is reeking with sweat. He knows he has made a mistake. Uncle would abandon me, like the rest, if he had seen...(O 366). Patrick believes that women in general are [f ]oul and sluggish in their evil (O 373). There is a suggestion that he has committed a sexual offence earlier. When he thinks of his cousin Madeline in particular, he recalls her tears and red-rimmed eyes(O 369). Accusingly she had repeated: He said things to me! Said things! (O 369) Miles was also expelled for having said things. Once again the reader is made to wonder about the reasons for her tears and accusations, but the author has chosen to merely plant a few seeds of suspicion, pointing in a certain direction.


The two PQs dubious relations to the opposite sex are also shared by the old unmarried man, who once makes a reflection on women when the chambermaid looks askance at his rapture in the Quarles suite: The forbidden rises to ones face in the presence of such women, they positively draw guilt out, expose everything...(O 375). The forbidden or his guilt must here refer to his attraction to the young American, including his empty hotel room. In fact, he is so completely taken in by the man, in a way possessed by him, that it is suggestive of infatuation. In his final moment of bliss, he feels reinvigorated, filled with Lebenslust once again:
I will work through him.... He has understood my message. My love. I will live through him and he through me: born again in my writing, in something I will, must write, something I will begin soon in honor of his youth...(O 379).

On the one hand, this exultant display of feelings might be interpreted as a homosexual attraction similar to the one in The Middle Years. On the other hand, it might also be seen as a deep, unilateral communion, a personal recharge. In fact, this situation strongly resembles and echoes the holy marriage described in Oatess The Sacred Marriage, in which a character gains strength to live on through spiritual communion with a deceased poet, physically and mystically relayed through the latters widow. In a similar fashion of course Joyce Carol Oates also uses other authors for inspiration, as The Turn of the Screw and her entire series of reimagined short stories, the very subject of this study, testify to. Due to the homoerotic theme which Oates brings out in her story, her version of The Turn of the Screw, according to some critics, exhibits more parallels with Thomas Manns Death in Venice (1911) than with Jamess original.16 It is true that the setting is similar, both Mann and Oates place their characters in seemingly innocent paradises, in popular seaside resorts, i e, Venice and Bournemouth. They both focus on an elderly writer, a loner and outsider, who has come to this new environment to await the arrival of


death. While doing so they both experience a strong attraction to young men. In Manns case the aging von Aschenbach becomes obsessed by the young blond Polish boy Tadzio. Yet, both men refrain from any direct comunication. The gaze is their only means of contact or communion, unless the letters in Oates are classified as more than indirect communication.17 The intertextual links to Tomas Manns novel are indeed important and serve to enrich Oatess text, echoing Jamess original as well. Oatess story alludes both to von Aschenbachs homoerotic infatuation as well as Jamess own much speculated-about sexual nature.18 As Greg Johnson correctly points out Oates has emphasized her protagonists sexual repression, by placing her story in a Victorian setting, the very era of Henry James.19 In an article on Virginia Woolf and Henry James significantly entitled The Art of Relationships Oates finds that the two writers are similiar in their treatment of character. Not only do they both see their characters as spirits without personal bodies; they inhabit time and space in a ghostly manner, never with the supernatural far away, perhaps because they are removed from the meanness of a quotidian life, such as work, religious doubts or social climbing, but their main concern is with the mystery and beauty and tragedy of human relationships....20 To Oates these two writers suggest that man gains an identity, or lives his life only through the relationship with others. For them reality is a subjective phenomenon. In other words, Woolf and James have both replaced the idea of defining man in terms of family, occupation, setting, or even God by what Oates calls the modern secular intellectual who admits of no reality beyond that experienced by the mind.21 This emphasis on the subjective, with minute psychological observations, and few points of communication, is what we witness in Oatess own The Turn of the Screw. The lives of others remain secret and mysterious. Yet, there is a constant need for affirmation through others. Elsewhere, in an afterword to a collection of short stories entitled Haunted, Tales of the Grotesque, Oates elaborates on subjectivity as the most profound mystery of our human experience, that though we each exist subjectively, and know the world only through the prism of self, this subjectivity is inacceessible, thus unreal, and mysterious, to others.22 In the same afterword Oates refers to Peter Quint as the hinge upon which Jamess story turns. And here she emphasizes the details also recycled in her own version of the story: red hair, no hat, and the sexually loaded fact that


he is very erect. As an afterthought she adds: unless he (James) is the screw itself, implying the biographical inferences discussed above, and which Oates makes use of in her tale.23 In yet another reference to Jamess text, in an Afterword to a collection of some of her most prominent early short stories, she justifies the inclusion of her own The Turn of the Screw which she claims is imagined as a further turn of the screw beyond Henry Jamess the secret inspiration for the great Gothic novella itself....24 It seems to me that what she is referring to here is exactly Jamess own life as inspirational source, in particular his ideas on subjectivity and what Oates calls his own essential loneliness.25 Leon Edel, way back, also saw the novella as a projection of Henry Jamess own haunted state, without being more specific.26

Significantly enough, the old mans very first word in Oates is [a]lone. Other words in his first paragraph include sick at heart, horrible numerosity (of London), oppression, evil light, mock. He goes on to talk of his idleness, how he is dying and his sense of failure, thus quickly creating a mood of despondency. It is not till the very end, however, that the reader finds out that in fact he is a writer, or in passing that he is an American living in England (We [the uncle and the old man] chatter wonderfully, two Americans...O 370), these very facts that undoubtedly remind us directly of Jamess own life. It does not take long before the young man defines what his greatest problem in life is: his ailing uncle. The latter has kept him up all night with his ghastly cough. By the seventh sentence in his first diary entry we are introduced to his fantasy of seeing the old man dead: I imagine the earth splitting to draw the old man down, his body tumbling into the crater, into Hell...(O 363). After such an awful night, he had experienced sleep like death and had hastened out and away in the morning. The subject of death is thus quickly introduced by Oates, a topic that also pervades Tomas Manns decaying Venice where von Aschenbach has come to die. In Jamess novella death is the reason why the governess is employed; the children had lost their parents in an accident. Death is the reason why the governess experiences trouble with her authority over the children. Dead characters exert influence over the living, as both Miss Jessel


and Peter Quint demonstrate. This was also the case in both James Joyces and Joyce Carol Oatess short story The Dead. Finally, little Miles expires in the last lines of the novella. Oates, however, does not end on a morbid note. Although she starts out in a despondent mood on the very first page, she proceeds to action on the second page where the young man has his encounter on the beach with the girl. Albeit the anonymous letters make him feel haunted, they do strike a familiar note, as if a secret Self or my own Self were observing him. Beset by a weird feeling, he nevertheless succeeds in turning the situation into something positive. While the old man, at the end, experiences his epiphany, the young one also feels something taking possession of him, like a breath (O 378). The red-headed Americans story ends in a series of questions. His inner struggle remains centered on the wish to get rid of his uncle and his wish to outlive him as the final italicized sections inform us:
I will kill him.... I will suffocate him, I have been given permission to suffocate him, to destroy him....(379)

The generational differences betwen the two protagonists are ironically juxtaposed in the fact that the younger man is wishing death on his uncle, as well as on all others of that same generation, while he himself acts as a life-giver to an old man. Thus Oates ends her story in bliss for one protagonist and queries for the other, whereas James ends his story at the very moment of death, when the forces of fear, or evil, appear to have won. Oatess comment on this abrupt ending is that James had driven Miles to the very barrier of the world available and there was no other way out but death.27

Ambiguity and Point of View

Henry James frequently places his protagonists in a new social situation or setting, then traces their growing awareness of that particular situation and restricts his point of view to their limited insight. Then he leaves it up to the reader to respond by making his own interpretations and associations, as did Chekhov. According to Terry Heller James is happily providing his

readers with blanks to fill in, since his style of writing raises more questions than it answers.28 This invitation to his audience to participate in the story has been called the process of adumbration by James himself.29 Oates has latched on to this trademark of Jamesian ambiguity. In fact, she develops this technique into two parallel points of view: the haunters as well as the haunteds. Since it is impossible to read both accounts simultaneously, one tends to vacillate beteeen reading them as two complete entities; person by person, page by page or day by day. Whichever way the story is read, one experiences an event from two viewpoints. Take the letter, for instance, which urges the young American to be cautious. The letter writer refers to the scene he has witnessed on the beach, but the receiver, at his end, interprets the contents of the letter in the light of his own thoughts of wishing death on his uncle (O 372). Consequently, Oates has physically realized the ambiguity inherent in Jamess story by presenting her story simultaneously from two points of view, both told in the first person. In referring to her own version of The Turn of the Screw Oates terms it experimental fiction.30 Greg Johson also calls it [t]he most innovative of her reimaginings, both thematically and technically, primarily due to her double point of view.31 Typographically, Oatess style of writing is naturally distinguished by her use of a double point of view concretized in two columns on each page. Jamess version is characterized by a clear and distinct prose, perhaps due to its greater length, whereas Oatess story moves along at a rapid speed using dashes, dots, parentheses, exclamations and short sentences to a greater extent. This is not to say that there are no exclamations, dots or dashes found in James. He seems to employ conversation to accelerate the pace of his story. There is also a progression in the use of stylistic devices. The sentences are longer at the outset and tend to be shorter and snappier at the end, where there are more exclamations as well. Both authors employ the particular device of italics. James has italicized certain words, mostly pronouns and verbs, for emphasis, frequently several times per page. Used chiefly in dialogues italics accentuate single words crucial to the particular view expressed. Oates often italicizes entire sentences that reflect her characters mental processes. Whenever the old man thinks of the young one, the words him, he, or his are obviously foremost in his thoughts, italicized 14 times. Similarly she italicizes thoughts on death, sex, and fears of madness and failure that, in turn, reinforce the central themes of her story.


Yet another stylistic device that Oates uses in all her writing is the long dash . Surprisingly, James also displays a predilection for dashes. T J Lustig claims that the number of dashes in The Turn of the Screw exceeds 600! Miss Jessels first appearance, for instance, is associated with the highest density of dashes in chapter six (54) and chapter seven (50). He concludes that it is quite appropriate for the ghostly to be accompanied by these empty spaces, where I hasten to add that the reader, once again, must fill in the blanks.32 Oates employs the dash in quite a different fashion. In her text it serves the purpose of a pause, in an interior monologue, as the following example illustrates:
Women: the girl of yesterday. Eyes secretive as slits. Her foot-the mud-the anklethe pale stockings-the calf of the leg inside the stocking -the knee-the thigh- (370)

Patrick Quarles is recollecting, and working himself through, not only his attitude to women in general, but to the girl he had encountered in particular. Considering this is the Victorian period when even piano legs were prudently covered up, we realize that this is indeed a risqu passage of forbidden thoughts. Starting with a description of her eyes, he moves down to her foot, her ankle, even mentions intimate articles of clothing, i e, her stockings, then advances upwards to the knee and her thigh where he stops, having already gone too far. Here the dashes halt his breath, while the gaps may also be filled with whatever is unmentionable, or whatever the reader may wish to fill them with.

Joyce Carol Oates has indeed been inspired by James in more ways than one. Not only has she intertextualized similar dates, names of characters and settings in southern England towards the end of the 19th century, but she has also seized on the same subject of lonely, love-lorn individuals haunted by ghosts or their own inner dark fears, dealing with such themes

as fear of death, inherited madness and sex. The general mood is one of mystery, before the fear is defined, mounting into terror as in James. In this sense, it may be claimed that Oatess version of The Turn of the Screw is more of a marriage than an infidelity. For the rest, however, Oates has used Jamess original story and his The Middle Years, as well his life, as a point dappui for a story very much her own that seizes upon and elaborates certain elements in James, such as the use of italics and dashes, the process of adumbration physically realized, outer specters turned into inner specters, frustrated Anglo-Saxon spinsters changed into equally frustrated AngloAmerican celibates. In addition, there are biographical details from Jamess own life incorporated, such as the lonely writer, unmarried, who seeks inspiration toward the end of his life, haunted by the past history of his family. Actually so very little is known of Jamess intimate life that it may easily lead to speculations of this kind. It is a fact, however, that he did write The Turn of the Screw, when he was experiencing a downfall in popularity, due to his dramatic productions having failed miserably.33 In Jamess novella of ghosts, the governess is obviously the one pressured by the apparitions. They, in the sense of the title, are putting the screws on her. The two children also add another excruciating twist of the screw. Ultimately it is the reader who is put under the screws by the author, as the odyssey into the irrational, inner depths of man unfolds. This is the main aspect of the Jamesian story that Joyce Carol Oates has intertextualized and developed. Of course, it is the old man who turns the screws on the young one, but eventually it is their respective inner pressures that exert themselves; the screws of life have once again been turned.

The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly

In 1992, some twenty years after the appearance of Oatess The Turn of the Screw, a second version was published in The Antioch Rewiew, bearing the above title.34 This time Oates sticks very closely to the original, telling the story from the ghosts point of view. What was ambiguous in Jamess tale, is made explicit by Oates. In life are the first words of the short story, conspicuously placed there to demarcate the difference between the past and the present, between being alive and dead. For the accursed inhabitants are living in the catacombs of Bly, where they roam mostly at night, but occasionally in the daytime. In life Miss


Jessel had been a sensible, pious, daughter of a country parson, virgin to the tips of her toes. In death, for why mince words? a ghoul(256). Thus Oates retains names, setting, even the same visions, e g, on the crenellated tower or through a pane of glass, and key details, such as Quints red hair, his hatlessness, Miles dismissal, the uncles wish not to be disturbed. Oates speaks clearly about the affair between the servants, Miss Jessels pregnancy, and her suicide in the Sea of Azof. According to a hand-written note in the Syracuse archives Oates assigns paternity to the Master: Miss Jes., preg. by the Master & abandoned, is comforted by Quint! 35 Quints death, a fall down a rocky slope after a visit to the local pub, is at first seen as a drunken misstep, but is questioned in the same sentence: it was perhaps not accidental, either, since it happened the night after Miss Jessels funeral (357). Some major changes are introduced by Oates, such as periodic, but disinterested, visits by the uncle with red-veined eyes (261), or the fact that Miles does not die in the end. He simply runs away into the night. The governess and Miles have been quarreling. She has called him a wicked boy. At this point she can see Quints apparition through the window, but Miles cannot. Infuriated, the latter dashes out leaving the man and the woman to regard each other through the window, passionless now, spent as lovers who have been tortured to ecstasy in each others arms (282). This is a reference to a passage in James where Miles and the governess are compared to a young couple on their wedding trip who cannot wait to be left alone (J 148). The element shared by these two scenes is the fight for control, the bitter contest. The struggle for little Flora, and little Miles, as Oates so clearly states the case (267). Saved this time, Miles runs out into the humid spring night. As in James his heart is alluded to by Oates: that slithery fish, thumping against his ribs (282). Calling for Quint he can hear nothing but the symphony of the bullfrogs in the pond. Thus the story ends with a cacophony from the annual procreative games played by frogs, reinforced by yet another sexual reference: The night air is warmly moist as the interior of a lovers mouth (283).36 Oates has made a conscious choice, in both her versions, of emphasizing the sexual, and especially homosexual, aspects. The relationship between Quint and Miles in The Accursed Inhabitants is frequently described in such terms. The uncle with the red-veined eyes brings up the subject in a conversation with Quint: I want, you know, Quint, this boy of my poor dear fool of a brother to be a boy; and not, you know...not a boy. Dyou


see? Flustered and uncomfortable the uncle continues to speak of public boys schools and the unmentionable antics going on there: Degenerates will be the death of England, if we do not stop them in the cradle. Speaking man to man, he stresses the importance of Miles being the last bearer of a great English lineage, which must be continued through him. The interview is rounded off by the following statement: I would rather see the poor little bugger dead, than unmanly(261). Quint does attempt to follow his masters admonition, although thinking: the upper classes are more savage than I had guessed (262). It turns out that young Miles, orphaned at the age of five, is a child starved for affection. In need of a male parental role model, he readily attaches himself to Quint who is both flattered and embarrassed when the little boy begins hugging and kissing him, even, if he was able, clambering onto Quints lap. Precociously, Miles explains, whenever Quint protests: But you know, Quint, Uncle doesnt love me. I only want to be loved (262). Then forgetting the uncles warnings, Quint would caress the boy, even kiss him on the head. This secret bond between them endures, even in death. After his expulsion from Eton, at night, in pajamas, Miles is out in the garden calling for Quint: I know youre here, you couldnt, could you, not be here! It has been so damnably long (273). Having told the valet about his dismissal, he finishes by telling Quint he loves him. As the servant appears to Miles, who by this time is crawling on the lawn, weeping, the boy is groaning in a delirium of joy as he tries to hug the phantom flesh-legs, thighs (274). Oates has here employed a sexually loaded vocabulary to describe their relationship, reminiscent, in details, of Patrick Quarles daring recollections of the girl. Even little angelic Flora is using such obscene language, when she is taken to London, that Mrs Grose must cover her ears, for shame(279). Oates openly emphasizes the struggle between the dead servants and the new governess to gain control over the children, what has sometimes been seen as the presence of evil. Quint even readies himself for the final confrontation. Feeling he is a character in a drama, or it may be an equation, there is Good, there is Evil, there is deception, there must be deception, for otherwise there would be no direction in which to move...(279-80). With sexual overtones, once again, he recalls, with a swoon in the loins, how Miles used to hug his knees (280). In a few italicized sentences, set apart as separate paragraphs, expressed by the ghosts, Oates raises questions of good and evil; of power over others;


of subjectivity; the existence of Another, invisible, inaudible, yet an echo in our minds; death and memory. As is apparent, these all reflect themes originally raised by James in The Turn of the Screw, then reworked by Oates in her two versions of the story. The very last of these philosophical maxims will serve as an illustrative example: We must have imagined that, if Evil could be made to exist, Good might exist as rightfully (282). This reflection appears during that final confrontation when it will be decided who is to win over Miles. Will Quint/evil make him cross over (Oatess expression), as is the case in Jamess tale? Or will he remain among the living/good? Oates seems to imply that there is a fifty-fifty chance for either outcome; that one cannot exist without the other. Since James chose the mortal solution, Oates opts for an ending pointing to life. As the guttural frogs illustrate at the end, the cycle of life goes on, in spite of the many turns of the screws that we are exposed to.


1 2 3 4 5 Gerald Willen, A Casebook on Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw (New York: Crowell, 1969) v. See Alexander E Joness article Point of View in The Turn of the Screw in Willen, 298-99, for various approaches to the story. T J Lustig, Henry James and the ghostly (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994) 112. The Oates archives at Syracuse University, Box 35. Henry James, The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers, Introduction by Kenneth B Murdoch (London, New York: Everymans Library, 1969) intro. viii. Future references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text preceded by J. Vol 2, No 2, Spring 1971. The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly first appeared in Antioch Review, in the Winter issue, 1992. Joyce Carol Oates, Marriages and Infidelities (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972) 374. All future references to this work will be placed within parentheses in the text preceded by O. Edmund Wilson, The Ambiguity of Henry James, in The Triple Thinkers, Ten Essays on Literature (London: Humphrey Milford, 1938) 122, 131-32.

6 7 8

10 M. Katan, A Causerie on Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw, in Willen, 327. 11 Oscar Cargill, Henry James as Freudian Pioneer in Willen, 224. 12 See Leon Edels introduction to The Ghostly Tales of Henry James (New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1948) for biographical details. 13 Henry James, The Middle Years in The Aspern Papers and Other Stories (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983) 135-154. 14 Joyce Carol Oates, The Life of the Writer, the Life of the Career (The Bennington Chapbooks in Literature, October 10, 1994). 15 See Willen, and Katan in Willen. 16 See Greg Johnson, Joyce Carol Oates, A Study of the Short Fiction (New York: Twayne Joyce Carol Oates Remaking Publishers, 1994); or Visnja Sepcic of Classic Stories in Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on New Trends in English and American Studies. Eds Marta Gibinska, Zygmunt Mazur. (Krakow: Universitas, 1991) 217-230; or Katherine Bastian, Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories Between Tradition and Innovation (Frankfurt Am Maine: Peter Lang, 1983).
and Bastian, regret the fact that the parallels 17 Some critics, such as Sepcic with Mann stop there, and that Oates has not further developed the thematic potentials in Mann. This is merely wishful thinking moving beyond the actual Oates text.

18 See Leon Edel for example. 19 Johnson 1994: 76.


20 Joyce Carol Oates, New Heaven, New Earth, The Visionary Experience in Literature (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1974) 20-22. 21 ibid. 22 Joyce Carol Oates, Haunted (New York: Signet, 1994) 303. 23 ibid 305. 24 Joyce Carol Oates, Afterword. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1993) 521. 25 Joyce Carol Oates, Beginnings. The Hopwood Lecture 1987 Michigan Quarterly Review Winter 1987: 3. 26 Edel 428. 27 Oates, New Heaven, New Earth, 31. 28 Terry Heller, The Turn of the Screw, Bewildered Vision (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989) 7-10. 29 Edel xxix. 30 Oates, Where Are You Going, 521. 31 Johnson 1994: 75. 32 Lustig 124-25. 33 Edel xvii-xix. 34 Joyce Carol Oates, The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly in Haunted, Tales of the Grotesque (New York: Signet, 1994) 254-283. Subsequent references to this story will be placed within parentheses in the text. 35 Manuscript for The Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly, Box 35 in the archives at Syracuse University. 36 Oatess handwritten notes for the ending show what details were prioritized: Bullfrogs/humid, swampy smell, of the night, yet interior, moist as . Guttural, urgent, rhythmic song(s). Their season has begun. Box 35 in the Oates archives at Syracuse University.



It may indeed seem audacious for a young author to re-write classical masterpieces that for long have been regarded as nearly perfect art pieces. Joyce Carol Oatess series of literary marriages or re-imagined stories analyzed in this study was not merely a writing excercise as so much of her early work, but a necessary step in the process of appropriating the canon and the strongly Euro-centered literary tradition. Set in contemporary United States, all but one of her stories are Americanized versions of the masters original work. Based on her aesthetic beliefs Oates demonstrates in these short stories a firm wish to be a part of the ongoing development of western literature which she sees as a communal effort, thus refuting the idea of the isolated artist. Her project, even her duty, as she sees it is to describe the society and culture that she is part of. The power and sanctity of art are reflected in her special relationship/discipleship to her beloved literary masters who provide her with artistic nourishment. Since Oates perceives of all art as originating in autobiography, these stories contain biographical material not only from her own life, as inThe Dead, but incorporated into her revisions there is also to be found biographical material inspired by her marriage partners, especially from Henry Jamess, James Joyces, Flauberts and Kafkas lives. These literary marriages between the American woman writer at the point of establishing herself as a writer when barely aged 30, and this series of canonized male writers is in the present study seen as an example of the revisionary movement in the 1970s, when women writers and critics alike,

felt a need to re-examine, re-interpret and even re-write what had been considered classical texts. Oates herself explains her series as a marriage of the writer of male consciousness with the writer of female consciousness. Swedish artist Lena Cronqvists painting on the cover of this study, The Betrothal (1974-75), is a perfect illustration of how a woman artist marries the old masters work (Jan van Eycks Betrothal, 1434), appropriates his title, contemporizes the setting making it Swedish and autobiographical by adding portraits of herself and Gran Tunstrm, her poet husband-to-be. Such an intertextual undertaking consequently opens up a dialog between authors and texts with new interpretations as a result. This intertextual process has permitted Oates to select specific elements that she wishes to emphasize, or ignore as the case may be. In this manner she has chosen in some stories to bring forward features hitherto neglected, such as the affirmative aspects of the ending of Kakfas The Metamorphosis. Or she has chosen to focus on the women characters in her versions of The Dead and The Lady with the Pet Dog. The breadwinning father rather than the son is a central character in her Americanized Metamorphosis. Each authors trademark, such as Joyces epiphany, Kafkas metamorphosis, Chekhovs open closure, Flauberts dual levels and Thoreaus doubleness are recycled and reinterpreted. In several cases Oates realizes a physical practical solution for the abstract notions in the original. In her re-vision of Flaubert, for instance, she labels and juxtaposes the two psychological levels; in her Chekhovian version she breaks up his linear chronology by introducing a circular form; in James she goes as far as physically dividing the page into two narratives to express the dual point of view implied in the original. Joyce Carol Oates also manages to thematically connect her series of revisioned stories. They all focus on transformation: loss of health in The Metamorphosis; the transformational power of love in The Lady with the Pet Dog; mental breakdowns or death in The Spiral and The Dead; and the power of literature to transcend and transform in The Sacred Marriage. Oatess entire series of re-imagined stories is of course in itself an expression of transformational work. Oatess focal interest is on the inner life of her characters. While their outer lives may seem ordinary or normal, the abyss is never far away. It may simply start with a crack in the desk top as experienced by the car salesman in The Metamorphosis. He felt that he constantly had a smile pasted on for


the public. So did Elena in The Dead, while her inner self was undergoing great turbulence. Oates frequently emphasizes this discrepancy between the ordinary and the extraordinary. The nameless jogger in Where I Lived and What I Lived For feels that everything is perfectly ordinary in his life. Still he expresses his doubleness, this conflict between his outer and inner selves, as schizophrenia. A similar dichotomy is expressed in the adulterous Anna in The Lady with the Pet Dog, who in the midst of new-found love attempts suicide. The same also goes for the doctor who is losing his grip on life in The Spiral. Involved in major crises of identity, these characters are all entrapped in the isolation of their own egos. Finding themselves in extraordinary situations these ordinary people thus have a feeling of being trapped either within themselves, in their bodies, or else in marriage, the past, work or a particular situation, exposed to the stampede of time. The state of dreams does permit them to leave the conformity of daily existence; hence the importance of dreams in most of these stories. For Oates dreams are invested with magical powers. The very short story is for her a dream verbalized.1 In fact, some of Oatess stories originally had titles referring to dreams, such as The Death of Dreams (which became The Dead) or Others Dreams (The Metamorphosis). Death is another leitmotif tying the stories together. Throughout the series the dead come back to haunt the living, as in The Turn of the Screw and The Dead. Death is always present. Even for Anna, happy in love, death, in a half-hearted suicide attempt, is seen as a viable way out of unresolved problems. Death is greeted as a friend, a deliverance, by the nameless jogger in Where I Lived and What I Lived For. Oates herself is also in a manner haunted by past masters work. Through this series of literary marriages she enters into deep relationships with each one in exploration of their craft before embarking on her own career in the field of literature. This series of Oatsean stories is also a close examination of love and marriage. For the literary scholar in The Sacred Marriage his love of literature, this magical revelation, will in the long run win over his short physical relationship with the poets young widow. Many marriages are portrayed as life-less or dead, as in Where I Lived and What I Lived For. Ilena of The Dead has failed in several marriages and love affairs. Yet idealistically she still believes in the very institution of marriage. Oates seems to say that love is all we have in a troublesome world. Although it is tremendously difficult to get a love relationship to work as demonstrated in her stories,


her characters show a strong willingness and the best of intentions, but there are other forces at work making them lose control of their lives. The car salesman in The Metamorphosis is turned into a vegetable in the end, Ilena is swooning and the doctor in The Spiral can no longer recognize people around him. Yet they all have loving wives, children or a lover next to them, rooting for them. Love is not a solution to anything; love also entails pain, as Anna entangled in a triangular affair, and the doctor in his spiralling situation, experience. Human existence works this way, according to this series of short stories: moments of bliss are coupled with moments of pain. In Oatess close examination of la condition humaine life is portrayed as an ongoing struggle. By selecting individuals who are representative of modern society, such as a car salesman, a jogger, a physician, or a university teacher, all classified as restless rather than well-adapted, and who are engaged in a struggle dealing with a crisis, Oates who writes out of a fascination for the world hopes to mirror a society in miniature, always concerned with the moral, social, and political implications of their experiences.2 This is what humanity peeled to its essence signifies. Are these literary marriages true marriages or infidelities? At the outset they are all true marriages of the mind, as has been demonstrated, the result of infatuation and deeply-felt respect. However, for the woman writer infidelities turn out to be a necessity for survival and subsequent development. Thus Oatess series of re-visioned stories have been found to include gender reversals, betrayals of form, and transgressions of perspective and subject matter. In this series of stories, as well as frequently in her work, Oates assimilates the literary tradition, making intertextual practices quite natural, and as a consequence creates a very distinctive voice of her own. In this manner she has unlocked the energy dormant in the original stories, and has used it to enrich her own versions of them. Having thus found her own voice she was swiftly launched into what has turned out to be her own brilliant literary career.

1 2 Joyce Carol Oates, The Short Story, Southern Humanities Review 5.3 (Summer 1971): 214. Dale Boesky, Correspondence with Miss Joyce Carol Oates, International Review of Psychoanalysis 2 (1975): 482.



Works by Joyce Carol Oates

American Appetites. London: Macmillan, 1989. Angel of Light. New York: Warner Books, 1981. The Assassins. New York: Vanguard, 1975. The Assignation. New York: Harper & Row, 1988. At Least I Have Made a Woman of Her: Images of Women in Twentieth-Century Literature, The Georgia Review 37 (Spring 1983): 7-30. Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart. New York: Dutton, 1990. Beginnings. The Hopwood Lecture 1987. Michigan Quarterly Review (Winter 1987): 1-16. Bellefleur. New York: Dutton, 1980. Black Water. New York: Dutton, 1980. Blonde. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. A Bloodsmore Romance. New York: Warner Books, 1982. Building Tension in the Short Story. The Writer 79 (June 1966): 11-12,44. By the North Gate. New York: Vanguard, 1973. Childwold. New York: Vanguard, 1976. The Collector of Hearts. New York: Dutton, 1998. Come Meet Muffin! Mark Graham, illustrations. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1998. Contraries, Essays. New York: Oxford UP, 1981. Crossing the Border. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1976. Cybele. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1979.


Defining the Short Story. Preface. Story: Short Fictions Past and Present. Eds. Boyd Litzinger and Joyce Carol Oates. Lexington: Heath, 1985. Greg Johnson 1994. Do with Me What You Will. New York: Vanguard Press, 1973. Double Delight (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1998. The Edge of Impossibility: tragic forms in literature. New York: Vanguard Press, 1972. Expensive People. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1968. Fiction, Dreams, Revelations. Introduction. Scenes from American Life: Contemporary Short Fiction. New York: Vanguard, 1973. vii-viii. First Love. Illustrated by Barry Moser. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1996. Foxfire. New York: Signet, 1993. A Garden of Earthly Delights. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1966. Haunted, Tales of the Grotesque. New York: Signet, 1994. Heat and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1991. The Hungry Ghosts: Seven Allusive Comedies. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow, 1974. I Had No Other Thrill or Happiness. The New York Review of Books March 24, 1994: 52-59. I Lock the Door Upon Myself. New York: Plume, 1991. In Olden Times, When Wishing Was Having...: Classic and Contemporary Fairy Tales. Where Ive Been, And Where Im Going. New York: Penguin, 1999. 9-25. Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems 1970-82. Princeton, NJ: Ontario Review Press, 1982. Is There a Female Voice? Joyce Carol Oates Replies. Gender and Literary Voice. Ed. Janet Todd. New York and London: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1980. 10-11. JCO and I. Concord: William B Ewert, 1994. Killer Kids. The New York Review of Books Nov 6,1997: 16-19. Last Days. New York: Dutton, 1984. Lecture. The American Center, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2, 1980. Letter. Personal correspondence to me, 24 Oct 1998. The Life of the Writer, the Life of the Career. The Bennington Chapbooks in Literature, Oct 19, 1994. Lives of the Twins (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Avon Books, 1989. Love and Its Derangements. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1975. Marriages and Infidelities. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972. Marya, A Life. New York: Dutton, 1986. My Heart Laid Bare. New York: Dutton, 1998. My Father, My Fiction. New York Times Magazine March 19, 1989: 44, 45, 80, 84, 85, 98, 108.


Mysteries of Winterthurn. New York: Berkley Books, 1985. The Myth of the Isolated Artist. Psychology Today May 1973: 74-75. The Mysterious Mr Thoreau. The New York Times Book Review May 1, 1988: 1, 31-33. The Nature of Short Fiction; or, The Nature of My Short Fiction. Preface. The Writers Digest. Handbook of Short Story Writing. Eds. Frank A Dickinson, and Sandra Smythe. Cincinnati: Writers Digest Books, 1970. xi-xviii. Rpt. in Greg Johnson 1994. Nemesis (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1990. New Heaven and New Earth. Saturday Review Nov 4, 1972: 51-54. New Heaven, New Earth, the Visionary Experience in Literature. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1974. Nightside: Eighteen Tales. New York: Vanguard Press, 1977. On the Art of the Short Story. Two-page typescript in the archives at Syracuse University. Box 30. On Boxing. Garden City: Dolphin/Doubleday, 1987. Other Celebrity Voices: How Art has Changed Our Lives. Todays Health May 1974: 31, 64. The Poisoned Kiss and Other Stories from the Portuguese (with Fernandes). Greenwich: Fawcett, 1975. The Profane Art. Essays and Reviews. New York: Dutton, 1983. Ravens Wing. New York: E P Dutton, 1987. Reflections on the Early Stories. Afterword. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?: Selected Early Stories. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1993. Richard Wishnetsky: Joyce Carol Oates Supplies a Missing View. The Detroit Free Press March 6, 1966: 1-2, 12-13. The Rise of Life on Earth. New York: New Directions, 1991. The Seduction and Other Stories. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1976. A Sentimental Education. New York: E P Dutton, 1980. The Short Story. Southern Humanities Review 5.3 (Summer 1971): 213-14. Greg Johnson 1994. The Short Story. Four-page typewritten manuscript in the archives at Syracuse University. Box 30. Snake Eyes (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1992. Solstice. New York: E P Dutton, 1985. Son of the Morning. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1978. Soul/Mate (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1989. Starr Bright Will Be With You Soon (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1999.


The State of Contemporary Short Fiction. Introduction. Best American Short Stories 1979. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979. xi-xxii. Greg Johnson 1994. Stories That Define Me: The Making of a Writer. The New York Times Book Review July 11, 1982: 1,15-16. A Terrible Beauty is Born. How? The New York Times Book Review Aug 11, 1985: 2, 27, 29. Tenderness. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1996. them. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1969. Thoreau as Psychologist. Three-page typescript in the archives at Syracuse University. Box 30. The Triumph of the Spider Monkey. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1976. The Unique/Universal in Fiction. Writer 86 (Jan 1973): 9-12. Unholy Loves. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1979. Upon the Sweeping Flood and Other Stories. New York: Vanguard Press, 1966. We Were the Mulvaneys. New York: Dutton, 1996. What I Lived For. New York: Signet Books, 1994. The Wheel of Love. New York: Vanguard Press, 1970. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1993. Where Ive Been, And Where Im Going, Essays Reviews, and Prose. New York: Plume, 1999. Where Is Here? Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1992. Will You Always Love Me? New York: E P Dutton, 1996. Which Fictional Character Would You Like to Be? Joyce Carol Oates answers. The New York Times Book Review 2 Dec 1984: 43. Why Is Your Writing So Violent? The New York Times Book Review 29 March 1981: 15, 35. With Shuddering Fall. New York: Vanguard Press, 1964. (Woman) Writer. Occasions and Opportunities. New York: Dutton, 1988. Women Whose Lives Are Food, Men Whose Lives Are Money. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1978. Wonderland. 1971. Princeton: Ontario Review Press, 1992. You Cant Catch Me (as Rosamond Smith). New York: Dutton, 1995. You Must Remember This. New York: E P Dutton, 1987. Zombie. New York: Dutton, 1995. As editor: American Gothic Tales. New York: Dutton, 1996. The Best American Short Stories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.


The Essential Dickinson. Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1996. First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft. Princeton, NJ: Ontario Review Press, 1983. Night Walks: A Bedside Companion. Princeton, NJ: Ontario Review Press, 1982. The Oxford Book of American Short Stories. Oxford and London: Oxford UP, 1992. Scenes From American Life, Contemporary Short Fiction. New York: Vanguard, 1973. The Sophisticated Cat, A Gathering of Stories, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings About Cats (with Daniel Halpern). New York: Plume, 1993. STORY: Fictions Past and Present (with Boyd Litzinger). Lexington, Mass: Heath, 1985. Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers. New York: Norton, 1998.

Other Works Consulted

Abrahams, William. Stories of a Visionary. Saturday Review Sep 23, 1972: 76, 80. Rpt. in Greg Johnson 1994. Aiken, Conrad. Collected Criticism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. Applebaum, Judith. Joyce Carol Oates. Publishers Weekly June 26, 1972: 12-13. Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaids Tale. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986. Avant, John Alfred. An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. Library Journal 15 November 1972: 3711-12. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Problems of Dostoevskys Poetics. Transl. R W Rotsel. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1973. Baldeshwiler, Eileen. The Lyric Short Story. May 1994: 231-241. Barthes, Roland. The Death of the Author. Image-Music-Text. Transl. Richard Haword. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977. 142-148. Basbane, Nicholas A. Oates Enjoys Her Unstable Readership. Salt Lake City Tribune Dec 4, 1994: F4. Bastian, Katherine. Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories Between Tradition and Innovation. Frankfurt Am Main: Peter Lang, 1983. Batterberry, Michael and Ariane. Focus on Joyce Carol Oates. Milazzo 42-46. Baudelaire, Charles. Oevres compltes de Charles Baudelaire. Paris: Ancienne Maison Michel Levy Frres, 1885. Bayley, John. The Short Story, Henry James to Elizabeth Bowen . Brighton: The Harvester Press, 1988. 110-123, 179-191. Beck, Warren. Joyces Dubliners, Substance, Vision, and Art. Durham, NC: Duke UP , 1969. Beja, Morris. Epiphany in the Modern Novel. London: Peter Owen, 1971. . ed. Dubliners and a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1973. Bellamy, Joe David. The Dark Lady of American Letters. Milazzo 17-27. 185

, ed. The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers. Chicago: Univ of Illinois P, 1974. Bender, Eileen. The Artistic Vision, Theory and Practice of Joyce Carol Oates. Diss. University of Notre Dame, 1977. . Autonomy and Influence: Joyce Carol Oatess Marriages and Infidelities. Soundings 58.3 (Fall 1975): 390-406. . Joyce Carol Oates: Artist in Residence. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987. Benvenuto, Bice, and Roger Kennedy. The Works of Jacques Lacan: An Introduction. New York: St. Martins, 1986. Bertrand, Louis. Flaubert Paris ou Le Mort Vivant. Paris: Grasset, Les Cahiers Verts, 1921. Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetics. London: Oxford UP, 1973. Boesky, Dale. Correspondence with Miss Joyce Carol Oates. International Review of Psychoanalysis 2 (1975): 481-486. Brandabur, Edward. A Scrupulous Meanness, A Study of Joyces Early Work. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1971. Brandt, Jens Christian. Jules och Jim p riktigt (Jules and Jim for real). Dagens Nyheter Sunday Jan 19, 1999: B2. Brennan, Matthew C. Plotting Against Chekhov: Joyce Carol Oates and The Lady with the Dog. Notes on Modern American Literature 9.13 (1985): 13-15. Brombert, Victor. Flaubert and the Impossible Artist Hero. The Southern Review 5.4 (1969): 976-986. . Flaubert, or the Priority of Art. The Hudson Review 21.2 (Summer 1968): 377-380. Buell, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995. Burgess, Anthony. A Paralysed City. Beja 1973: 224-240. Burwell, Rose Marie. Joyce Carol Oates and an Old Master. Critique XV (1973): 48-70. Cargill, Oscar. Henry James as Freudian Pioneer. Willen 223-238. Carroll, James. He Could Not Tell a Lie. The New York Times Book Review Oct 6, 1994: 7. Carter, Angela. Burning Your Boots, The Collected Short Stories . New York: Holt and Co, 1995. Carver, Raymond. On Writing. May 1994: 273-277. Anton Chekhovs Short Stories. Selected and edited by Ralph E Matlaw. New York: N W Norton & Company, 1979. Cixous, Hlne. The Laugh of the Medusa. Trans. Keith and Paula Cohen. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1.4(1976): 875-893. . Obsttriques cruelles. Paper delivered at Ume University, May 24, 2000. Clayton, Jay, and Eric Rothstein, eds. Influence and Intertextuality in Literary History. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1991.


Clemons, Walter. Joyce Carol Oates at Home. The New York Times Book Review Sep 28, 1969: 4-5, 48. . Joyce Carol Oates: Love and Violence. Milazzo 32-41. Clyman, Toby W., ed. A Chekhov Companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1985. Compton, Robert. Joyce Carol Oates Keeps Punching. Milazzo 164-166. Corngold, Stanley. The Commentators Despair, The Interpretation of Kafkas Metamorphosis. Port Washington, NY: Kennikat Press, 1973. Crane, Stephen. In the Desert. Poem in The Black Riders and Other Lines. 1895. Creighton, Joanne V. Joyce Carol Oates. Boston: Twayne, 1979. Culler, Jonathan. The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics, Literature, Deconstruction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981. Daiches, David. Dubliners. Garrett 27-37. Derman, Avram B. Structural Features in Chekhovs Poetics. Critical Essays on Anton Chekhov. Ed. Thomas Eekman. Boston: G K Hall, 1989. 37-43. Dimoff, Paul. Autour dun projet de roman de Flaubert: La Spirale. Revue dhistoire littraire de la France 48 (1948): 309-335. Durkin, Andrew R. Chekhovs Narrative Technique. Clyman 123-134. Durry, Marie-Jeanne. FLAUBERT ET SES PROJETS INEDITS. Paris: Librairie Nizet, 1921. Edel, Leon, ed. The Ghostly Tales of Henry James. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1948. Eliot, T S. Tradition and the Individual Talent. Norton Anthology, English Literature. Sixth Ed, Vol 2. New York: Norton, 1993. 2170-76. Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. New York: Oxford UP, 1982. Emrich, Wilhelm. Franz Kafka. Trans. S Z Buehne. New York: Frederick Ungar Pub Co, 1968. Fetterley, Judith. The Resisting Reader. A Feminist Approach to American Fiction. 1978. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. Fischer, E W. Une trouvaille. La Table Ronde 124 (April 1958): 99-124. Fischer, Wilhelm. Etudes sur Flaubert indits. Trans. Count Franois dAiguy. Leipzig: J Zeitler, 1908. Flaubert, Gustave. La tentation de Saint Antoine. Paris: Editions Garnier Frres, 1954. . Un indit de Gustave Flaubert: La Spirale (1). La Table Ronde 124 (April 1958): 96-98. Franks, Lucinda. The Emergence of Joyce Carol Oates. Milazzo 82-94. Frazer, James G. The Golden Bough, A Study in Magic and Religion. London: Macmillan, 1924. Freedman, Ralph. Kafkas Obscurity: The Illusion of Logic in Narrative. Modern Fiction Studies 8 (1962): 61-74.


Friedman, Ellen G. Joyce Carol Oates. Showalter 1991: 353-374. Friedman, Susan Stanford. Weavings: Intertextuality and the (Re)Birth of the Author. Clayton 146-180. Friedrich, Gerhard. Bret Harte as a Source for James Joyces The Dead. Philological Quarterly 33 (Oct 1954): 442-444. Garret, Peter K, ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Dubliners. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968. Gerigk, Von Horst-Jrgen. Zweimal Die Dame mit dem Hndchen: Anton Tschechow und Joyce Carol Oates. Literary Theory and Criticism. Ed. Joseph P Strelka. New York: P Lang, 1984. 871-891. Germain, David. Author Oates Tells Where Shes Been, Where Shes Going. Milazzo 173-180. Ghiselin, Brewster. The Unity of Dubliners. Accent 16 (1956): 196-213. Gilbert, Sandra M, and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteeth-Century Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 1984. Gilbert, Sandra M, What Do Feminist Critics Want? A Postcard from the Volcano. Showalter 1985: 29-45. Giles, James R. Destructive and Redemptive Order in Joyce Carol Oates Marriages and Infidelities and The Goddess and Other Women. Ball State University Forum, XXII.3 (Summer 1981): 58-70. . Oatess The Poisoned Kiss. Canadian Studies 80 (1979): 138-147. Goldberg, S L. The Artistry of Dubliners. Garrett 86-92. Greene, Gayle. Changing the Story. Feminist Fiction and the Tradition. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1991. Hart, Clive. James Joyces Dubliners. London: Faber and Faber, 1969. Hassan, Ihab. The Problems of Influence in Literary History: Notes Towards a Definition. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 14 (1955): 66-76. Heller, Terry. The Turn of the Screw, Bewildered Vision. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989. Herget, Winfried. Joyce Carol Oates Re-imaginationen. Theorie und Praxis im Erzhlen des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts. Tbingen: Gnter Narr Verlag, 1986. 359-369. Hodgart, Matthew. James Joyce, A Students Guide. London: Routledge, 1978. Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. New York: Routledge, 1988. Jacobs, Rita D. A Day in the Life. Milazzo 167-172. James, Henry. The Aspern Papers and Other Stories. Ed. and intro. Adrian Poole. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1983. . The Turn of the Screw and The Aspern Papers. Intro. Kenneth B Murdoch. London, New York: Everymans Library, 1969.


Janouch, Gustav. Samtal med Kafka (Conversations with Kafka). Trans. Rut Hedborg. Lund: Bakhll, 1991. Johnson, Diane. Balloons and Abductions. The New York Times Book Review Sep 5, 1982: 1, 15-16. Johnson, Greg. Invisible Writer, A Biography of Joyce Carol Oates. New York: Penguin, 1998. Johnson, Greg. Joyce Carol Oates, A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994. Johnson, Ronald L. Anton Chekhov, A Study of the Short Fiction. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993. Jones, Alexander, E. Point of View in The Turn of the Screw. Willen 298-318. Joyce, James. Dubliners. 1914. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1961. . Letters of James Joyce. Vol II. Ed. Richard Ellmann. London: Faber and Faber, 1966. . Stepen Hero. Ed. Theodore Spencer. Norfolk: New Directions, 1963. Jrv, Harry. Introduktion till Kafka. Vasa: Horisont, No 3, 1962. Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. Willa and Edwin Muir (1933). Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1961. Katan, M. A Causerie on Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw. Willen 319-337. Kenner, Hugh. Dubliners. Garrett 38-56. Keyser, Elizabeth Lennox. A Bloodsmore Romance: Joyce Carol Oatess Little Women. Womens Studies 14 (1988): 211-223. Kolodny, Annette. Dancing Through the Minefield. Some Observations on the Theory, Practice, and Politics of a Feminist Literary Criticism. Showalter 1985: 144-167. . A Map for Rereading: Or, Gender and the Interpretation of Literary Texts. New Literary History 11. 3 (1980): 451-467. . Reply to Commentaries: Women Writers, Literary Historians, and Martian Readers. New Literary History 11. 3 (1980): 587-592. Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. Ed. Leon S Roudiez. Trans. Thomas Gora, Alice Jardine and Leon S Roudiez. Oxford: Blackwell, 1980. .Womans Time. Signs 7.2 (Autumn 1981): 13-25. Kuehl, Linda. An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. Milazzo 7-13. Lacan, Jacques. Ecrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Norton, 1981. Lantz, Kenneth A. Chekhovs Cast of Characters. McConkey 71-85. Levin, Harry. James Joyce, a Critical Introduction. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. Lindheim, Ralph. Chekhovs Major Themes. Clyman 55-70.


Loeb, Monica. Crossing the US/Canadian National Border. A Matter of Identity in Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas King and John Steinbeck. Dangerous Crossing. Eds. Monica Loeb and Gerald Porter. Uppsala: Swedish Science Press, 1999. 45-54. . Henry James and Joyce Carol Oates: The Turn of the Screw Times Two. American Studies in Scandinavia 17 (1985): 1-9. . Hiers Gmos, Analysis of a Short Story by Joyce Carol Oates. Vitterhetsnjen. Ume Studies in the Humanities, May 1, 1989. 289-294. . Recommended Literature. Review of Marya, A Life. Moderna Sprk LXXXI. 1 (1987): 59-62. . Walden Revisited by Joyce Carol Oates. American Studies in Scandinavia 14 (1982): 99-106. Loomis, C C Jr. Structure and Sympathy in The Dead. Garrett 110-114. Lukcs, George. The Theory of the Novel. Trans. Anna Bostock. 1920.Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1971. Lustig, T J. Henry James and the ghostly. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Mann, Thomas. Dden i Venedig. 1911. Trans. and intro. Karl Vennberg. Hgans: Bra Klassiker, 1981. Martin, Carol A. Art and Myth in Joyce Carol Oatess The Sacred Marriage. The Midwest Quarterly 28.4 (1987): 540-52. Mathewson, Rufus W. Chekhovs Legacy: Icebergs and Epiphanies. McConkey 13-42. May, Charles, E. Chekhov and the Modern Short Story. Clyman 147-166. , ed. The New Short Story Theories. Athens: Ohio UP, 1994. Mayer, Sigrid, and Martha Hanscom. Critical Reception of The Short Fiction by Joyce Carol Oates and Gabriele Wohmann. Columbia, SC: Camden House, 1998. McConkey, James, ed. Chekhov and Our Age, Responses to Chekhov by American Writers and Scholars. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1984. McDowell, Edwin. A Sad Joyce Carol Oates Forswears Pseudonyms. Milazzo 147-151. McLaughlin, Frank. A Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates. Milazzo 123-127. Milazzo, Lee, ed. Conversations with Joyce Carol Oates. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1989. Miller, Nancy K. Arachnologies: The Woman, the Text, and the Critics. The Poetics of Gender. Ed. Nancy Miller. New York: Columbia UP, 1986. 270-296. Morgan, Thas. The Space of Intertextuality. ODonnell 239-279. Morris, Pam. Literature and Feminism, An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 1993. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Knopf, 1988. Myers, George, Jr. Oates Writes out of Fascination, not Zeal. Milazzo 181-186. Nabokov, Vladimir. Chekhovs Prose. Critical Essays on Anton Chekhov. Ed. Thomas Eekman. Boston: G K Hall, 1989. 27-33. 190

Norman, Torborg. Isolation and Contact: A Study of Character Relationships in Joyce Carol Oatess Short Stories 1963-1980. Gteborg: Acta Universitatis Gothoburgensis, 1984. Ochshorn, Judith. The Female Experience and the Nature of the Divine. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1981. OConnor, Frank. Work in Progress. Garrett 18-26. ODonnell, Patrick, and Robert Con Davis, eds. Intertextuality and Contemporary American Fiction. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP , 1989. Ostriker, Alicia. The Thieves of Language. Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking. Showalter 1985: 314-337. Parini, Jay. A Taste of Oates. Milazzo 119-122. . My Writing is Full of Lives I Might Have Led. Milazzo 152-160. Peak, C H. James Joyce the Citizen and the Artist. London: Edward Arnold,1977. Pearson, John H. The Prefaces of Henry James, Framing the Modern Reader . University Park: Penn UP, 1997. Pheiffer, Johannes. The Metamorphosis. Kafka, A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Ronald Bray. Englewood, NJ: Twentieth Century Views, 1962. 53-59. Phillips, Robert. Joyce Carol Oates: The Art of Fiction. The Paris Review (Fall 1978): 199-206. Pinsker, Sanford. Speaking about Short Fiction: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. Milazzo 95-100. Polizer, Heinz. Franz Kafka, Parable and Paradox. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1962. 65-82. Pollack, Vivian R, ed. New Essays on Daisy Miller and The Turn of the Screw. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. Prescott, Peter S. Romantic Agony. Newsweek Sep 20, 1982: 91-92. REFERENCE GUIDE TO WORLD LITERATURE. Vol 2, 2nd ed. New York: St James Press, 1995. 896-901. Rich, Adrienne. When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision. On Lies, Secrets, and Silence. Selected Prose 1966-1978. New York: Norton, 1979. 33-49. Riffaterre, Michael. Compulsory reader response: the intertextual drive. Worton and Still 56-78. . Semiotics of Poetry. 1978. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984. Rdell, Lioba. Joyce Carol Oates: The Turn of the Screw The Writer as Mythographer. Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 4.1(1987): 532-539. Saint Augustine. Confessions. Chicago: Great Books of the World, 1992. Scholes, Robert. Some Observations on the Text of Dubliners: The Dead. Studies in Bibliography 15 (1962): 191-205. Schumacher, Michael. Joyce Carol Oates and the Hardest Part of Writing. Milazzo 135-146.


Visnja. Joyce Carol Oatess Remaking of Classic Stories.Proceedings of the Sepcic, 5th International Conference on new Trends in English and American Studies. Eds. Marta Gibinska, and Zygmunt Mazur. Krakow: Universitas, 1991. 217-230.

Severin, Hermann. The Image of the Intellectual in the Short Stories of Joyce Carol Oates. Frankfurt Am Main: Peter Lang, 1986. Sexton, Ann. Transformations. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971. Showalter, Elaine. Joyce Carol Oatess The Dead and Feminist Criticism. Faith of a (Woman)Writer. Eds. Alice Kessler-Harris, and William McBrien. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1988. 13-19. . My Friend, Joyce Carol Oates: An Intimate Portrait. Ms Magazine, March 1986: 44-50. Rpt. in Milazzo. , ed. The New Feminist Criticism. Essays on Women, Literature, and Theory. 1985. London: Virago Press, 1986. . Sisters Choice. Tradition and Change in American Womens Writing. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. Showalter, Elaine, Lea Baechler, and Litz A Walton, eds. Modern American Women Writers. New York: Schribner, 1991. 353-374. Sjberg, Leif. An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. Contemporary Literature (Summer 1982): 269-89. Smiley, Jane. A Thousand Acres. 1991. New York: Knopf, 1992. Smith, Llewellyn, Virginia. Anton Chekhov and the Lady with the Dog. London: Oxford UP, 1973. 213-219. Sop, Maegd De, Carolina. Chekhov and Women, Women in the Life and Work of Chekhov. Columbus, Ohio: Slavia Publications, 1987. 315-323. Starkie, Enid. Flaubert: The Making of the Master. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1967. Stewart, Grace. A New Mythos, the Novel of The Artist As Heroine 1877-1977. Montral: Eden Press, 1981. Stewart, J I M. Dubliners. Beja 202-207. Srensen, Dolf. James Joyces Aesthetic Theory, Its Development and Application. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1977. Taylor, Gordon O. Joyce after Joyce: Oatess The Dead. The Southern Review 19.3 (1983): 596-605. Thoreau, Henry David. Walden and Civil Disobedience. 1854. New York: Penguin Books, 1983. Todd, Janet, ed. Gender and Literary Voice. New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1980. Transformation of Self: An Interview with Joyce Carol Oates. The Ohio Review (Autumn 1973): 60-61. Truffaut, Franois. Jules et Jim. 1961.


Upchurch, Michael. Unpleasant Dreams, Joyce Carol Oates gleefully entwines the horrific and the homespun. The New York Times Book Review Feb 13, 1994: 34. van der Eng, Jan. The Semantic Structure of Lady with Lapdog. On the Theory of Descriptive Poetics: Anton Chekhov as Story-Teller and Playwright. Eds. Jan van der Eng, Jan Meijer, Herta Schmid. Lisse: The Peter de Ridder Press, 1978. 59-98. Vecsey, George. A Heavyweight Looks at Boxing. Milazzo 149-151. Wagner, Linda W., ed. Critical Essays on Joyce Carol Oates. Boston: G K Hall, 1979. Waller, Margaret. An Interview with Julia Kristeva. Trans. Richard Macksey. ODonnell 280-293. Walzl, Florence L. Gabriel and Michael: The Conclusion of The Dead. James Joyce Quarterly 14.1 (1967): 17-31. Watanabe, Nancy Ann. Love Eclipsed, Joyce Carol Oatess Faustian Moral Vision. Lanham: Univ Press of America, 1998. Weldon, Michele. Making Readers Want Novels Is Writers Hardest Job. Milazzo 161-163. Welty, Eudora. Reality in Chekhovs Stories. McConkey 103-124. Willen, Gerald, ed. A Casebook on Henry Jamess The Turn of the Screw. New York: Crowell, 1969. Wilson, Edmund. The Triple Thinkers, Ten Essays on Literature. London: Humphrey Milford, 1938. Winner, Thomas. Chekhov and his prose. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966. Worton, Michael, and Judith Still, eds. Intertextuality, Theories and Practices. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1990. Zimmerman, Paul D. Hunger for Dreams. Newsweek March 23, 1970: 109A.


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Abrahams, William 9, 12, 18, 185 Aiken, Conrad 91, 103, 185 Anderson, Sherwood 92 Applebaum, Judith 85, 185 Alcott, Louisa 50, 62, 65 Atwood, Margaret 50, 72, 185 Auden, WH 44 Austin, Jane 42 Avant, John Alfred 19, 39, 185

Baechler, Lea 103, 192 Bakhtin, Mikhail 4546, 185 Baldeshwiler, Eileen 91, 103, 185 Barth, John 47 Barthes, Roland 45, 46, 48, 67, 185 Basbane, Nicolas A 185 Bastian, Katherine 94, 97, 104, 134, 156, 175, 185 Batterberry, Michael and Ariane 38, 185 Baudelaire, Charles 16, 110111, 119120, 185 Bayley, John 185 Beck, Warren 78, 84, 85, 185 Beckett, Samuel 92 Beja, Morris 185 Bellamy, Joe David 19, 104, 185186 Bender, Eileen 23, 38, 40, 51, 186 Benvenuto, Bice 104, 186 Berryman, John 25 Bertrand, Louis 106, 107, 120, 186 Blake William 55 Bloom, Harold 44, 49, 186 Boesky, Dale 180, 186 Bosch Hieronymous 53, 64 Brandabur, Edward 186

Brandt, Jens Christian 122, 186 Brennan, Matthew C 94, 104, 186 Breughel, Pieter 44 Brombert, Victor 109, 121, 186 Bront, Charlotte 159 Brown, John 53 Browning, Robert 69, 83 Buell, Lawrence 186 Bunyan, John 55 Burgess, Anthony 186 Burwell, Rose Marie 64, 186

Calisher, Hortense 11 Cargill, Oscar 162, 175, 186 Carroll, James 135, 136, 138, 186 Carroll, Lewis 26 Carter, Angela 50, 186 Carver, Raymond 92, 103, 186 Chagall, Marc 76, 83, 101 Chekhov, Anton 12, 13, 16, 21, 87-104, 177-180, 186 Cixous, Hlne 44, 45, 63, 84, 186 Clayton, Jay 186 Clemons, Walter 18, 39, 85, 155, 187 Clyman, Toby W 103, 187 Compton, Robert 187 Con Davis, Robert 63, 191 Conrad, Joseph 14, 86 Corngold, Stanley 155, 187 Crane, Stephen 53, 65, 187 Creighton, Joanne V 64, 94, 104, 156, 187 Cronqvist, Lena 178 Culler, Jonathan 47, 64, 187


Dahmer, Jeffrey 57 Daiches, David 187 Daly, Mary 49 De Feo, Roland 155 Derman, Avram B 187 Derrida, Jacques 45 Dickens, Charles 43, 47 Dimoff, Paul 111, 121, 187 Drer, Albrecht 58 Durkin, Andrew R 91, 103, 187 Durry, Marie-Jeanne 106, 120, 187 Dylan, Bob 58

Godwin, Gail 13, 8081 Goldberg, S L 188 Graham, Liz 63 Greene, Gayle 1415, 19, 63n1, 73, 84, 188 Gubar, Susan 73, 84, 188

Hanscom, Martha 190 Hart, Clive 81, 188 Hassan, Ihab 43, 188 Heller, Terry 168, 175, 188 Hemingway, Ernest 27, 87, 92 Herget, Winfred 188 Hodgart, Matthews 188 Hutcheon, Linda 47, 188

Eco, Umberto 43 Edel, Leon 167, 175, 187 Eliot, T S 45, 63, 187 Ellmann, Richard 78, 85, 187 Emrich, Wilhelm 150, 155156, 187 Evans, Mary Ann 49

Ibsen, Henrik 82, 83, 85

Jacobs, Rita 188 James, Henry 12, 14, 17, 21, 28, 3940, 86, 97, 106, 157176, 189 Janouch, Gustav 142, 144, 156, 188 Johnson, Diane 62, 65, 188 Johnson, Greg 11, 1819, 5960, 65, 85, 87, 103104, 169, 182185, 189 Johnson, Ronald L 189 Jones, Alexander E 174, 189 Jong, Erica 72 Joyce, James 12, 13, 1516, 21, 26, 28, 46, 47, 61, 63, 6785, 87, 92, 106, 177180, 189 Jung, Carl 27 Jrv, Harry 189

Faulkner, W 18, 26, 46, 51, 59, 97 Fetterley, Judith 48, 64, 187 Fielding, Henry 43 Fischer, E.W. 107, 110111, 120, 187 Fischer, Wilhelm 121, 187 Flaubert, Gustave 12, 16, 21, 105124, 177-180, 187 Franks, Lucinda 187 Frazer, James G 3541, 187 Freedman, Ralf 187 Freud, Sigmund 27 Friedman, Ellen G 188 Friedman, Susan Stanford 47, 64, 188 Friedrich, Gerhard 85, 188 Fuller, Margaret 50

Kafka, Franz 12, 13, 14, 16, 21, 26, 87, 92, 106, 139156, 177180, 189 Katan, M 162, 175, 189 Keats, John 53 Kennedy, Roger 104, 186 Kennedy, Ted 57, 88 Keyser, Elisabeth Lennox 65, 189 Khnopff, Fernand 53 Kingston, Maxine Hong 50

Garret, Peter K 84, 188 Gerigk, Von Horst-Jrgen 188 Germain, David 188 Ghiselin, Brewster 84, 188 Gilbert, Sandra M 49, 64, 73, 84, 188 Gilman, Charlotte Perkins 48 Giles, James R 188


Kolodny, Anette 48, 64, 189 Kristeva, Julia 4447, 67, 189, 193 Kuehl, Linda 120, 189

Nietzsche, Friedrich 27, 55, 88 Norman, Torborg 88, 103, 190

Lacan, Jacques 98, 186 Lantz, Kenneth A 189 Laurence, Margaret 43, 51 Lawrence, D.H. 26, 97, 143 Lessing, Doris 72 Levin, Harry 189 Lindheim, Ralph 91, 189 Liszt, Franz 119 Loeb, Monica 65n50, 103n5, 190 Loomis, C C Jr 190 Lukcs, George 91, 103, 190 Lustig, T J 157, 170, 174, 176, 190

Oates, Carol Joyce The Dead 6785 The Lady with the Pet Dog 87104 The Metamorphosis 139156 The Sacred Marriage 2941 The Spiral 105124 The Turn of the Screw 157176 Where I Lived, and What I Lived For 125138 Bibliography 181185 Ochshorn, Judith 36, 41, 190 OConnor, Flannery 26, 5152, 92 OConnor, Frank 26, 190 ODonnel, Patrick 63, 191 Ostriker, Alicia 56, 64, 191 Ovid 150

Mailer, Norman 57 Malamud, Bernhard 92 Mann, Thomas 17, 27, 47, 87, 159, 165167, 190 Mansfield, Kathrine 92 Manson, Charles 57 Martin, Carol A 35, 4041, 190 Mathewson, Rufus W 91, 103, 190 May, Charles E 103, 190 Mayer, Sigrid 190 McConkey, James 103, 104, 189, 190, 193 McDowell, Edwin 190 McLaughlin, Frank 155, 190 Melville, Herman 27 Milazzo, Lee 18, 3839, 190 Miller, Nancy K 48, 64, 190 Milton, John 43, 52 Morgan, Thas 44, 63, 190 Morris, Pam 64, 190 Morrison, Toni 50, 190 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus 57 Munch, Edvard 157 Myers, George, Jr 190

Paley, Grace 92 Parini, Jay 3839, 191 Peak, C H 191 Pearson, John H 191 Pheiffer, Johannes 191 Phillips, Robert 18, 39, 122, 155, 191 Picasso, Pablo 24, 27 Pinsker, Stanford 1819, 103, 191 Plath, Sylvia 25, 26, 50, 51, 72 Poe, Edgar Allen 14, 47 Polizer, Heinz 191 Pollack, Vivian R 191 Porter, Katherine Anne 27, 50, 92 Pound, Ezra 52 Prescott, Peter S 62, 65, 191

Reed, Ishmael 47 Rich, Adrienne 49, 51, 64, 67, 191 Riffaterre, Michael 45, 47, 63, 191 Roch, Henri Pierre 44, 118, 122n42 Rousseu, J J 45 Rothstein, Eric 186 Rdell, Lioba 191

Nabokov, Vladimir 190 Naylor, Gloria 50


Saint Augustine 44, 54 Sartre, Jean Paul 27 Scholes, Robert 85, 191 Schumacher, Michael 18, 191 Visnja 84, 85, 175, 192 Sepcic, Severin, Herman 40, 192 Sexton, Ann 50, 192 Shakespeare, William 4344, 4950, 5254, 105, 112 Shahn, Ben 101 Showalter, Elaine 12, 19, 4950, 56, 64, 7374, 76, 8385, 89, 94, 96, 103, 104, 188189, 192 Sjberg, Leif 38, 8485, 122, 155, 192 Smiley, Jane A 50, 192 Smith, Llewellyn 104, 192 Smith, Rosamond 28, 56, 57, 132, 182, 183, 184 Sop, Maegd De Carolina 103, 104, 192 Southey, Robert 15 Starkie, Enid 120121, 192 Stewart, Grace 72, 84, 192 Stewart, J I M 192 Still, Judith 193 Stowe, Harriet Beecher 49 Strindberg, August 70, 83 Srensen, Dolf 192

Upchurch, Michael 193

van der Eng, Jan 193 van Eyck, Jan 178 Vecsey, George 193

Tan, Amy 50 Taylor, Gordon O 70, 84, 192 Thackeray, William M 43 Thomas, Dylan 72 Thoreau, Henry David 12, 14, 1617, 21, 26, 47, 5253, 106, 125138, 178180, 192 Tocqueville de, Alexis 55 Todd, Janet 182, 192 Truffaut, Franois 118119, 192


Wagner, Linda W 155, 193 Waller, Margaret 63, 193 Walton, Liz A 103, 192 Walzl, Florence L 193 Washington, Booker T 55 Watanabe, Nancy Ann 193 Weldon, Michele 193 Welty, Eudora 9192, 193 Whitman, Walt 47 Willen, Gerald 157, 186, 189, 193 Wilson, Edmund 161, 193 Winner, Thomas 193 Woolf, Virginia 26, 89, 166 Worton, Michael 191, 193

Yeats, William Butler 12, 24, 26, 52, 97

Zimmerman, Paul D 85, 193