Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Pessimistic Narrators

  1. #1
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Within the winds
    Posts
    8,858
    Blog Entries
    957

    Pessimistic Narrators

    Because I tend to be a bit twisted and disturbed often the books I find most captivating to read are books with first person narrators who tend to being bleak, sardonic, and angsty. I enjoy the dark moody atmosphere.

    To give a few examples of my favorites:

    Cather in the Rye by J.D Salinger
    Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
    The Stranger by Albert Camus
    Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
    Journey to the End of Night by Louis-Ferdinand Celine
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
    An American Psycho and Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

    I have recently started reading Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and I am really enjoying it. It has a similar sort of vibe.

    I am curious for recommendations for other books of a similar nature. While I am always up for a good classic I am interested in exploring more contemporary novels that capture that same mood as it seems to me there are not as many current books that are so dark and brooding.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    I am an alien on a training mission.
    Posts
    72
    I'm with you on the dark first person narrative, but I have to read traditional narrative novels more often to maintain my sanity. I tend towards early to mid-twentieth century continental authors, and you can judge if these titles can be regarded as "classic" or not. The last one is the most contemporary and I bet you would like it. As for the apparent lack of dark and brooding contemporary works I tend towards thinking that since World War II there hasn't been something as globally significant and therefore of such an impact on culture that it bleed into the authors' works and out of their pores in a way that was recognized so universally and represented such common human elements. This is not at all to deny events or movements of impact, but they are much more culturally specific and often wrote about with the intent to present a very specific understanding, often one representing the authors particular bias, and therefore a somewhat less universal view. I'm expressing this rather casually as I'm not inclined to write a larger thesis on my ruminations, so please excuse any failings you might see in this short paraphrasing.

    Knut Hamsun - Hunger (1890)
    Henri Barbusse - Hell, aka "The Inferno" (1908)
    Rainer Maria Rilke - The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910)
    Italo Svevo - Confessions of Zeno (1923)
    Michel Tournier - The Orge (1970)

  3. #3
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Within the winds
    Posts
    8,858
    Blog Entries
    957
    I tend to agree that WWII was a great impact on art and literature and did create a lot of angst and feelings of displacement. Many of the authors of the time did draw from their own personal experiences with the war. There has not been event with as much global impact. I also think though there has been a general shift in attitude and or outlook in which instead instead of brooding or expressing the angst there is a greater tendency to find a more hopeful/optimistic outlook. I do not think that it is as culturally acceptable to embrace the darkness and uncertainty.

    Thanks for the suggestions I look forward to checking them out.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    I am an alien on a training mission.
    Posts
    72
    WWI is to me of significantly greater impact, but only because of much else going on immediately prior to it and afterwards. It was both a results of, and a catalyst for, the modern itself, but also, and of much greater interest to myself, the collapse of so much traditional culture that was the slow accumulation of hundreds of years. I'm not sure if I can find one such short and single period of years that changed the world and mans relation to it so dramatically (something like special relativity in 1905 to the rise of Hitler in 1933).

    So Dark Muse, we've agreed on a general source of the "bleak, sardonic, and angsty", but I am curious now how you might explain the lack of it in our more recent era and from what source arises our more "hopeful/optimistic" viewpoint? Please share your thoughts as I am highly interested. Also, what do you think the grounds of people like ourselves preferring to read books of "dark moody atmosphere" should we be so short of it?

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    2,988
    The Ogre has also been translated with the title The Erl-king

  6. #6
    The Poetic Warrior Dark Muse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Within the winds
    Posts
    8,858
    Blog Entries
    957
    I think in our current culture there are several contributing trends that lead to the tendency of a more hopeful/optimistic view point though I do not necessarily think it is in fact a positive trend. For starters there is the growing boom in the selling of anti-depressant drugs that are being perpetually advertised on TV. Now don’t get me wrong I acknowledge that true depression is serious thing and should be treated but I think we are also teetering on creating a culture of over diagnosis and self diagnosis. A person starts to feel a little ennui or angst about the state of the world and think they need to go get a pill to be “normal.”

    More and more I think our society is telling people if you are not happy than something is wrong with you. There is also the big boom in self-help books that are essentially telling us how not to be angsty and how to worry less and be more hopeful and here is how to do it. The latest craze is the tidying up book telling us if we had less stuff we would have more joy in our life.

    We are living in world that is constantly trying to find the solution to the “problem” of being brooding.

    We also have more distractions from the problems of the world so it is easier to tune out. With the Internet and social media it is a lot easier for someone to go watch cute cat videos than look at the news and the world around them. So there is a move away from angst because more and more people are able to ignore and deny to themselves that there is anything to feel dark and brooding about.

    While the Internet os supposed to be this connecting fore it also causes a great disconnect. In the days of WWI and 2 I think there might have been a greater connection on that pervasive mood and atmosphere that transpired across all genres of art and creation.

    I think the reason those of us who still seek out the dark and brooding and still want to hold on to some of that angst refuse to be blind to the problems facing the world and don’t want drugs or coping methods to make us numb to it or in denial about it. I think we also miss that feeling of conscious connection. Back in the old brooding days maybe we never would have met but maybe we would be having this discussion in an art house, salon or coffee shop.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    I am an alien on a training mission.
    Posts
    72
    I would love to tell you how much I agree with everything you've said, preferably in a salon over a warm brandy, but alas...the internet will have to do. Thank you.

Similar Threads

  1. What audiobooks have the best narrators?
    By dratsab in forum General Literature
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 06-17-2015, 03:42 PM
  2. Pessimistic
    By Clay MacDonnell in forum Personal Poetry
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-30-2011, 10:46 PM
  3. The narrators
    By Didone in forum Don Quixote
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 06-06-2010, 08:05 AM
  4. Most Interesting Narrators
    By Dark Muse in forum General Literature
    Replies: 45
    Last Post: 09-13-2009, 11:48 PM
  5. Narrators
    By AuntShecky in forum General Literature
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-30-2007, 02:55 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •