Tuesday, June 17, 2003
You don't always know how you feel about a book until days after you put it down. Mardi has a nice, dense integrity to it, looking back over it -- a mad book but a forceful one, a powerful one. A sleeping dragon that stirs somewhere in the middle and roars. I don't really have my finger on it but I think the book has influenced me in some way. Or maybe I just like the way it sails through my head. I want to read it again and take notes and say a lot more than I have because what I've said is not substantial. Is it too much to call it a rigorous work of the imagination? Maybe rigor isn't the word, because it isn't tight or taut, exactly. A work of the imagination that rolls over you, regardless of its lack of rigor. It smothers you. Anyway. I've reflected on it a lot since I read it, with particular attention to its allegorical interest; the way Melville erects arguments of faith versus doubt, the imaginative way he takes American poilical battles over slavery and plays them out among a group of natives -- and I like the unresolved ending, too, or nearly unresolved. It's emotionally satisfying for some reason. I want to say more about this book and should probably stop until I get a better grip on what I'm talking about.