Beginnings, Middles, Endings; The Story of Narrative with Irish writer Claire Keegan
Centre Culturel, Paris. February 23 & 24, 2019
Tuition Euro 350
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During these two days we will consider the structure of a narrative using the translation of a French novel and three short stories.
Participants will be asked to read and carefully consider the following:
1. “The Silent Men” and “The Adulterous Woman”; from Exile and the Kingdom by Albert Camus, translated by Justin O’Brien.
2. “The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitalier”; from Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert.
3. A Woman’s Life by Guy de Maupassant.
4. We will also watch scenes of the film based on A Woman’s Life, and discuss what a scene is and how it reveals character.
BEGINNING: How and where do stories begin? How does an author make the incision in time and develop rising tension? How is a reader drawn into the narrative? Why do readers sometimes not get past the first page and put the book down? At what point does the beginning end and the middle begin? And why?
MIDDLE: If the beginning and the ending are the extremities, then the middle is the trunk of the story. We will look at why most manuscripts, if they fail structurally, tend to fall and waver in the middle. And we’ll examine the relationship between the beginning and the middle, how and why one feeds off the other. All participants will be asked to consider and reconsider what the middle is, how it functions in the text — and why it sometimes fails. We will discuss the texts with a view to deciding where the middle ends and the ending begins.
END: How do we conclude? Are endings natural — or an artifice? Isn’t life and learning ongoing — until it isn’t? The focus will be placed on falling action, resolution, redemption, emotional consequences and inevitability.