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Hidden in Plain View

Hiddenin Plain View

Hiddenin Plain View

Whenusing words, according to Morson (1988), two subjects can be usedincluding that which speaks about other words and that which doesnot. The first is always evaluated based on the personality of thespeaker and it can be paraphrased while the second one cannot beparaphrased, no dialogue is used and it admits no authorship. It onlyallows citation and recitation. The second one belongs to nobody whenspoken and it becomes a scripture when written. The two distinctionsabove presents a problem to the readers of Tolstoy’s famousstatements.

Bakhtin’stheories provided a useful framework for understanding the power ofsome aesthetic passages that people use. He suggested that theproperties of a genre are how it represents “the concrete life ofthe word” which means exchange of utterance in their historical andsocial contexts. His opinion is that the language not onlyrepresents the world, but it is the world in itself. Further, he saysthat for it to be an image, the lips, which are joined to the personspeaking it, must speak the utterance. He designed this response toaddress failure to pay attention to the society and history. ForBakhtin, the novel is anti-genre but not a genre whereby when thenovels begin to develop rules other novels parody those it rulessame way they do to other literary and social conventions.

Oneshould know that inclusion of non-novelistic language may result inan author ignoring the novelistic conventions but rather deliberatelyviolating them and if a reader stopped ignoring them or if a writerviolates them then the non-dialogic speech in any novel willautomatically begin to fail. This will make the novelist not toviolets the reader’s expectations for they would have changed. Thisis what Tolstoy exploited in his strategy by using non-novelisticlanguage to clarify the understanding of a novel (Morson, 1988).

Tolstoystated the difference between conditional and unconditional languagein unconditional passage of warand peace.For example, the language that God uses is absolute and unconditionalin that as opposed to utterances from an individual, it is not afunction of being evoked by circumstances and the meaning is notqualified by an individuals whose reactions has to be taken intoaccount. In short, Biblical command can be disobeyed but cannot beanswered. An example is given whereby Proverbs is used as an absolutelanguage that is not attributed to a particular author and they areauthoritative. Here one will realize that proverbs are never spokenbut are always cited, it loses its unconditionality and authoritymaking one to imagine a source for it for instance it being a Germanor Russian proverb.

Tolstoyalso employs the use of complete statements as his titles of hisstories “God sees the Truth, but waits to Tell”. In addition,from this title, one realizes that they are proverbs. In some cases,the endings take a form of moral and in others it may be solutionsto riddles posed by the narrative in question. He also interrupts thenarration by including statements that may form a second clause ofsentence where the first clause is in a narrative in nature. Whenthis happens, it functions differently from those uttered bycharacters in the same novel.

TristramShandyand EugeneOnegin arealso novels where the commentaries are fictive and take place withinthe novelistic universe. They are about conventions for novel writingand violate the conventions both conventionally and novelistically.They have fictions within fiction and boundaries within the innerfictions are the once that are seriously in question.Tolstoy’sstory of the Warand Pease arenot spoken by novelistic narrator in first sentence as opposed to therest of the novel. His absolute statements are literal and notliterary, truth. He tries to make non-fictive and non-dialoguedstatements, which fails because in the final analysis, there is noway to speak non-contextually in the novel completely. He failsbecause he implicitly relies on them hence breaching them in honor.His statements are in self-contradiction because they are framed bythe assertion of non-conditionality, further refusal to incorporatedialogue is both dialoging and diologizing. He cannot makenon-dialogic language but succeed in changing nature of dialogue(Morson, 1988).

Tolstoyslife also tells us more about his absolute statements. Some of thegenres used are “life and works” which is of a writer and itsclose relative where a claim is made about a connection betweenliterary work and the world, literary and nonliterary. There are fewobstacles for the biographer of Tolstoy. For example, his aspirationto be a prophet implies that he should have special relations toone’s biography and language in order to utter absolute truth orstatements about morality, history and culture. In the end, hisattempts were futile and heroic and this led him to strategies thatare more complex where he wanted them to go through. Further, it ledhim to continue procrastination. He employed three strategies thatcan help one to understand his life.

Heused the strategy of presenting his assertions as cited innon-historical source and defines his own role as a simpletransmitter of truth the way prophets traditionally do. It wasdifficult for him as he denied possibilities of divine revelations.He often claimed to have published his conclusions and not authoredthem.


Morson,G. S. (1988). Hiddenin plain view: Narrative and creative potentials in `War and peace`.Stanford: Stanford University Press.