Tag Archives: Melanchta

A thrilling response

“I don’t tell you so,” said Winsey. “You policemen are all alike – only one idea in your skills. Blest if I can make out why you’re ever appointed. He was shaved after he was dead. Pretty, ain’t it? Uncommonly jolly little job for the barber, what? Here, sit down, man, and don’t be an ass, stumpin’ about the room like that. Worse things happen in war. This is only a blinkin’ old shillin’ shocker. But I’ll tell you what, Parker, we’re up against a criminal – the criminal – the real artist and blighter with imagination – real, artistic, finished stuff. I’m enjoyin’ this, Parker.”

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009.

This particular passage calls for a thrilling, adrenalizing response from the reader which differs from that of Stein’s “Melanctha”. To begin with, the varied language of Sayers’s novel allows for more things to happen and allows Sayer to fill up the reader’s imagination with vibrant images that had not been done in “Melanctha”. In “Melanctha”, the language was simple with repetitive words that did not call for the kind of exciting response Sayers’s novel is calling for. Also, in Sayers’s novel, there is a plot that is following the murder of a body which adds to thrill a reader gets when the clues unravel and the reader is given more information. In “Melanctha”, I felt as if the same ideas were being stated over and over again, causing one to get tiresome and maybe even bored of reading about the same thing.

Whose Body?

“After she’ad put Mrs.Thipps to bed, she’ad slipped out to go to the Plumber’s and Glaziers’ Ball at the “Black Faced Ram” Mr.Williams ‘ad met ‘er and brought ‘er back. E’could testify to where she’s been and that there wasn’t no ‘arm in it.”

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York, Dover, 2009, p66.

The use of a more slangy language, or at least not proper English, differs here from the one in Melanchta. It is too used to give speech to a person of a lower class, a domestic, as in Melanchta it is used for people considered, at the time, as lesser. But it is used mostly for humor, and do not aim at disturb our comprehension of the plot as it confusing in Melanchta. It is rather use to accentuate and caricature in a humorous way the features of ther personality as it quickly gives us an impression of Grace Horrocks ‘s character, a rather excitable, simple domestic.  The way her deposition -no proper dialogue features and it is one continuous speech- is transposed just shows that she is not that important.

Melanctha

“You certainly never can learn no way Melanctha ever with all I certainly been telling to you, ever since I know you good, that it ain’t never no way like you do always is the right way you be acting ever and talking, the way I certainly always have seen you do so Melanctha always. I certainly am right Melanctha about them ways you have to do it, and I knows it; but you certainly never can noways learn to act right Melanctha, I certainly do know that, I certainly do my best Melanctha to help you with it only you certainly never do act right Melanctha, not to nobody ever, I can see it. You never act right by me Melanctha no more than by everybody” (227 online version).

This is part of Rose’s monologue to Melanctha. This passage is one that I believe to be representative of the general style of the book. It has the almost annoying repetition that is constant throughout the book and the sentences are choppy with the over use of commas. Although the word choice is quite simple, the sentence structure is more complicated and the commas create somewhat of a chanting feeling. This passage displays the style of the rest of the book in relation to structure and diction.

 

 

Is Jeff Campbell the answer to Melanctha’s wandering in life?

“He always found life very easy did Jeff Campbell, and everybody liked to have him with them. He was so good and sympathetic, and he was so earnest and so joyous. He sang when he was happy, and he laughed, and his was the free abandoned laughter that gives the warm broad glow to negro sunshine.”

Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. 63. Print.

In this particular passage, I noticed that Jeff Campbell was strikingly different from Melanctha. All throughout Melanctha’s childhood and adolescence, Melanctha strives to understand and gain wordly knowledge. While the book does not let us know what she specifically wants (I’m not sure if Melanctha even knows it herself), it is apparent that she strongly desires to understand “the secret of the world” (that is how I read it). Therefore, she wanders from guy to guy or from place to place in search of that thing she desires (whatever it may be). This passage, however, introduces a new man who finds life very easy. It made me think how different he is from Melanctha who is constantly in search of the thing that will satisfy her desire. I’m not sure if this man has already found it but it was interesting to come across a character so different from her. Also, in this last part of the passage, it describes Jeff Campbell as having this “free abandoned laughter that gives the warm broad glow to negro sunshine”. This particular description was mentioned twice before this passage and the two people (Rose and Melanctha’s father) did not have this smile. And they are two people who are no longer in Melanctha’s life. Was Melanctha searching for a person with this feature? Why this particular feature?

Melanchta

“Jeff Campbell never knew very well these days what it was that was going on inside him. All he knew was, he was uneasy now always to be with Melanchta. All he knew was, that he was alway uneasy when he was with Melanchta, not the way he used to be from just not being very understanding, but now, because he never could be honest with her, because he was now always feeling her strong suffering, in her, but he knew now he was having a straight, good feeling with her, but she was so fast, and he was so slow to her; Jeff knew his right feeling never got a chance to show itself strong, to her.”

Stein, Gertrude, “Melanchta” in Three Lives, Dover Publication, 1994, p96.

After several paragraphs on the confused thoughts of Jeff Campbell, the repetition of the verb know is used to show how the character tries to assure his feelings to himself even though we can see that he’s still very confused and doesn’t know how to deal with it.