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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) The genres of PEACE
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 11:29:11 

I don't know if this observation has been made before, but each of
PEACE's five parts is "in the mode," so to speak, of a different genre. 
(I'm referring to the predominant action of each part, not to the short
tales embedded within them.)

Part one is, I think, in the "genre" of serious realistic fiction, the
"Dickens and Jane Austen and Proust and Stendahl" that Charles Turner
craves.  We see a scene of childhood innocence about to be shattered, as
in the beginnings of many "literary" novels.  (Actually, I'm less sure
about this first part than about the others.)

Part two is a screwball comedy, with its eccentric, spirited heroine
baiting her stuffy suitors, the "scavenger hunt" for the Chinese egg,
and its farcical discovery in the barn.

Part three is a horror story, of course; even the storytelling frame is
a frequent device of horror stories.

Part four is a hardbooiled detective story.  We have a crime being
investigated (forgery) and an alluring but treacherous woman whom the
"detective" gets entangled with.  The bogus treasure is out of THE
MALTESE FALCON, and Gold's dusty bookshop is out of THE BIG SLEEP.  Weer
even compares himself to "Humphrey Bogart or Charlie Chan." (213)

And part five is a documentary, or a journalistic expose: a day in the
life of a corporation.

I doubt that Weer intended this structure.  But Wolfe has experimented
with telling a single story through several different genres elsewhere,
in the four-part story beginning with "The Dark of the June."  Here he
applies the technique to a man's life.

Incidentally, I take back what I said earlier about beginning to
understand PEACE.  I still think there was a lot of truth in what I said
about Weer's psychology; but I no longer think that the book can be seen
as fundamentally a straightforward psychological novel in disguise, as I
was trying to read it.  There's too much more going on.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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