A Novel of Harvard


24 September 2018

Note: When I began writing what is in the end a very autobiographical novel, I thought it would be obvious that the story is being told by what is known technically as an “unreliable narrator.” I thought such a narrator would elicit more understanding of David, the story’s main character.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. It has not been obvious at all to many readers that the narrator is unreliable. They tend to identify the author with narrator. In fact, the author should be identified with David.

The narrator is meant to represent all those people whose views of David were misguided, obtuse, selfish, and ignorant.

The narrator can indeed be disliked and even despised because of the way he sees David, but the author does not see things the way the narrator does. The author did, however, once experience and think and see things as David does. In very many respects, in fact, this is still true.

I suppose a better writer would not have to explain all this.

(Bemerkung: Auf den Anfang einer deutschen Übersetzung des Romans, nur als eine Art Sprachübung durchgeführt, kann man unten rechts zugreifen. Das Kapitel, das zur Zeit übersetzte wird, befindet sich unten.)

(Note: The beginning of a German translation of the novel, done purely as a kind of language exercise, is available by selecting the appropriate link to the right. The chapter that is currently being translated is below. The entire English version of the book is available through the links on the right side of this page.)

Teil 1, Kapitel 23

“You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year.
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear.”
–Oscar Hammerstein II
Songtext aus “South Pacific”

Obwohl Davids Englischunterricht das Gefühl der Hochstimmung, das Harvard ihm anfangs gegeben hatte, teilweise verringerte, das, was Harvard für ihn wirklich traurig und schmerzhaft machte, war die Art, wie seine Mutter Samen von Angst und Unsicherheit in seinen Gedanken pflanzte. Wo es aber um Harvard ging, war eine gewisse Ernüchterung war unvermeidlich. Davids Idee von Harvard war einfach zu unwirklich, um lange aufrechterhalten zu werden.

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