Friday, December 18, 2009
Thomas Covenant post part 1
I really hope that Covenant is not actually dreaming. I feel like that would kill my motivation to keep reading these books. Donaldson seems to be using the possibility that Covenant could be dreaming as a legitimate plot device. There are things that I like and things that I dislike about this approach. It does give Covenant's decisions an interesting angle. The significance of his actions would be much less if he were just dreaming. Would Lena's rape be abominable if it didn't actually happen? The answer is no. It also seems to be setting up nicely for a life-lesson. Covenant has been thoroughly conditioned to have no hope (you cannot hope). The fact that he could be dreaming seems to give him a solid reason to hold on to his doubt. I am predicting some very lord of the rings like messages (i.e. you can make a huge difference if you persevere but it isn't that you cannot have hope, like Covenant thinks, it is that you must have hope) to come from all of this. In the LOTR the subject was a teeny hobbit, in TC it is an outcast leper. I think that each utilize such an extreme case to really emphasize the above message. I actually don't know if I think that this is a good thing but I think that it is a thing, if you know what I mean. That is, I would be sort of neutral toward Donaldson pushing those points. To get back to my original point, I feel like everything would fall apart if The Land was not real. I understand that it would still allow for growth of character. Covenant could still have learned his lesson and defeated his demons in the dream. But the weight of the events that take place in The Land would completely diminish. The only time that I think it is perfectly acceptable to write an entire book about stuff that isn't actually happening is if it's some Philip K. Dick novel that is totally going to fuck up your sense of reality or something neat like that. I'm definitely being facetious but still, if you're going to set the majority of your novel in some super-detailed imagined world, it should probably be real. Also, what would happen to all of the possible messages? I feel like so many of the themes that would achieve justification if The Land were real (you should have hope, put the struggles of others before your own when it is for the greater good, not kill yourself) would dissipate if it were not. It would be a bad decision in regards to pacing as well. If it is a dream, we will have had this character struggling to believe that The setting is real right in the beginning and then three books of material that takes place in that setting later it will be like "he was right all along it wasn't real." The fact that Covenant has to be knocked unconscious to enter The Land is not helping my worries. I suppose it could be that Donaldson chose to do it that way to make the possibility that he could be dreaming a greater factor for the character and for the reader. If this is the case it is clearly working. The problem is that it will just seem stupid if he is not dreaming. It will come off as A.) a cheap tool to help highlight that possibility and B.) just silly in that he needs to be hit on the head to enter a fantasy world. In any case, I think a great deal of how I will feel about this book in the future is contingent on whether or not he is dreaming.