On Dec 2, 2010 (Thursday) a private viewing of the Marlon Brando - Vivien Leigh movie of SND will be screened at the Yacht Club at 6 pm.
The World According to Garp
The question of feminism and what it meant, gave rise to a steady stream of discussion, as that theme runs through the novel from beginning to end. Here are the 'feminists' in animated discussion —
Whether the quality of the writing elevates the novel to the first ranks of literature was another question that dogged the discussions. As happens in nearly all the sessions, lively arguments were put forward on several sides, but the readers were left to form their own judgments. John Irving's own opinion may be true, but it is probably tongue-in-cheek: "An artfully-disguised soap-opera."
Two visitors joined us for this session, Mr Thomas Manipadam and Mr Renjith Sanoo.
You may read a full account of this session by clicking here. Or by following the link below.
Here is a collection of criticism on SND, edited by Harold Bloom, for Rs 99/-:
Indira and Bobby are the selectors for the next fiction reading some time in Feb 2011. Can they please announce their selection by Nov 1, say so that there is enough time to procure the novels and read it?
Soma led off the discussion. She saw the movie first on TV, and neither liked the movie, nor the name itself. Didn't understand it. She then saw it several times, and liked Robin Williams in the role of Garp, and after one more viewing she came to appreciate the funny way Garp looked at life. She was moved by Jenny Fields portrayal as a feminist by Glen Close. The Ellen Jamesians made no impact.
KumKum selected the passage where the rationale for Robert's sex-change operation to become Roberta is laid out. It interested her because she didn't know much about transsexualism, even though one of her close friend’s daughter had made the switch in the other direction. In the reading it becomes apparent that the sex-change is not frivolous at all and has a deep basis. Perhaps it is a passage from a more disordered state to a less disordered state in the individual.
Joe decided for a change he would not tease out the romance from the sex scenes, taking the advice of Roberta who told Garp when he was invited to give readings in his post-success years: “You have lots of other scenes to read besides sex." The passage concerns the publisher's acid test for the commercial success of a manuscript: give it to the char-lady to read and if she says it's a go, then run with it. Thus it is that Jillsy Sloper determines the fortunes of the writer, Garp.
Garp is a novel about an author who is born to Jenny Fields, a nurse who wanted a baby without the attendant bother of maintaining a husband. She believed, and the novel illustrates this, that the “world is sick with lust,” although Garp says of his mother Jenny, “She just didn't understand this fucking lust, lust, lust! at all.” Jenny was convinced that "Lust makes the best men behave out of character."
Bobby read from a reply of Garp to a reader who accuses him of making fun of people with troubles in his novel. Garp replies that laughter is the only response he has to the acute distress in people's lives, and quotes Walpole: “the world is comic to those who think and tragic to those who feel.“ Bobby who likes philosophy may have found this saying pithy.
Helen could never tell what sort of day Garp had experienced by what he cooked for them; something special might mean a celebration, or it might mean that the food was the only thing that had gone well, that the cooking was the only labor keeping Garp from despair. "If you are careful," Garp wrote, "if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day: what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane."