“I Never Heard Such a Spectacle”: Visual and Acoustic Imagery in James Thurber’s Short Stories
- УДК / UDK: 821.111
- Author: Nina A. Moroz
- About the author:
Nina A. Moroz (Ph.D., Teaching Assistant, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia)
James Grover Thurber (1894–1961) is not only a famous humorist and cartoonist, but also an author of sophisticated psychological fiction, a thoughtful reader of Henry James and Edgar Poe, American and European modernist writers, etc. The basic conflict between male and female gender roles, vital for Thurber, is dramatically reflected in the visual and acoustic imagery of his stories. Thurber makes his male characters in a modernist way sensitive to “the sound and the fury” of the world. Thurber’s stories are based on the complicated psychological cases, e.g. the impact of sound on male behavior or the transformation of sound into visual images. The paper deals with James Thurber’s short stories of the 1940s that represent the mechanisms of power. The majority of the stories are dialogues between men and women (usually 2–4 participants) who reveal the connectedness of power and subjectivity. They are usually married couples; the women are housewives. The paper mainly focuses on the stories “The Whip-Poor-Will” (1941), “The Сane in the Сorridor (1943) and “Am I Not Your Rosalind?” (1947). There are some especially interesting cases, including various images of blindness (some of them based on Thurber’s biography) and peculiar “male” borderline states of mind challenging “normal” visuality (intoxication, hallucinations, dreams, etc.). Any rhythm is usually perceived as a source of terror. Thurber’s male characters are especially sensitive to the sounds made by animals and birds which symbolize the intrusion of the absurd into everyday life. On the contrary, women have onedimensional vision and are insensitive to most loud sounds; their mechanical perception reminds the automata of Romanticism.
- Keywords: James Grover Thurber, modernism, voice, sound, visuality, power, male.
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