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unidentifiedflyingobject's picture

Week 11

This weekend I went to see the Cezanne and Beyond exhibit at the Museum of Art in Philadelphia. I'd never studied Cezanne before and I was struck by the way that his paintings seemed realistic at first glance, but the longer I stood and stared at them, the more they seemed ambiguous and slightly unreal. There's always something "a little bit off" about his paintings that make them intriguing and confusing.

I feel the same way about Hustvedt's novel, especially as I neared the end. Despite the fact that for the most part, I didn't find it an exceptionally memorable or fascinating story, I was left with a distinct sensation of ambiguity by the last 30 or so pages. Hustvedt's work is by no means the most avant garde that I have ever read, but that is part of its allure: it's realistic but there's always something "a little bit off."

As for how her novel contributes to our understanding of cultural evolution, it's easy enough to relate it in some ways to Whitman's work: bits and pieces of a man's life, strung together, and not necessarily related, but describing a sort of general overall theme or feeling. However, what is definitely unclear to me is how this novel is more significant than any other recent novel. 

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