Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Third tutorial: fathers and sons

Review on individual progress with our bibliographies – the awesome Clarissa – my moan about lack of "the literature" about my topic (autobiography on blog/WWW) – John Sutherland (c.2000), Nicholson Barker (contra destruction of paper), Soc. Authors 1/4ly.

Primary focus on Father and Son (Edmund Gosse: see post on Monday for my notes) – when published in 1907 broke the mould of de mortuis nil nisi bono – not praising father, as expected hitherto – divers issues raised:
- How much did EG understand as a child those things he reported as an adult?
- Why was F&S written when it was (EG aetat 58)?
- What were his motives?
- How much is authentic?

Crux publication of Omphalos – savaging by both creationists and evolutionists * – retreat from society – current scientific ferment with Chambers, Wallace (plebs) and Darwin (gent) – who gets the glory?

Secondary focus on When Did You Last See Your Father? (Blake Morrison, 1993: first [?] of now prevalent confessional genre} – search by son of truth about affair between pa and neighbour – silence by all three involved parties – none of son's business? – irony that F&S and WDYLSYF were only successful books by professional writers EG and BM.

Discussion about other sons: Auberon Waugh on Evelyn, Martin Amis on Kingsley, John Mortimer on pater.

Are these works evidence of Oedipal slaying of fathers by sons?

Canter through limited number of books by daughters about mothers, e.g. Lyndall Hopkinson on Antonia White, Constance Briscoe (first black female judge), Mary Soames on Clementine Churchill (?!).

* Omphalos (Gr navel) posited that when God created the world he gave it the appearance of one that had had a past, thus Adam was created with a navel though not of woman born. But "Neither side, it seems, wanted God to fake the data: one side, because it did not want that sort of God; the other, because it did not want that sort of data" (The Rejection of Omphalos: A Note on Shifts in the Intellectual Hierarchy of Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain)

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