Critical Linking: August 17, 2013

Franco’s latest effort is a foreword to the new Damion Searls translation of Hermann Hesse’s novel “Demian” , and (let’s be honest) he’s in over his head. Hesse was awarded the 1946 Nobel Prize for literature; in novels such as “Siddhartha,” “Steppenwolf” and “The Glass Bead Game,” he explores questions of identity, of spiritual longing and the tension between the individual and society.

James Franco has shown that he can play an author on the big screen.  He still has a way to go before proving that he is one off of it.


Part of the patronising promise of the Strong Female Character is that she’s anomalous. “Don’t worry!” that puff piece or interview is saying when it boasts the hero’s love interest is an SFC. “Of course, normal women are weak and boring and can’t do anything worthwhile. But this one is different. She is strong! See, she roundhouses people in the face.” Sometimes the phrase “not your typical damsel in distress” will be used, as if the writing of pop culture heroines had not moved on even slightly since Disney’s Snow White and as if a goodly percentage of SFCs did not end up, in fact, needing to be rescued

Another annoying character type? The “Self-Rescuing Princess.” Sounds like being a princess is more trouble than its worth.


Pick up a copy of the Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and you will find numerous examples of double, triple, or even quadruple negatives. In Middle English, the use of more than one negative served to intensify the force of the negative being expressed. In the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer wrote of the very perfect and gentle Knight: “He neuere yet no vileynye ne sayde In al his lyf vn to no maner wight”. (Never in all his life had he spoken rudely to anyone). Something similar is going on in modern English. If someone says “I didn’t do nothing” nowadays, he or she is usually emphasizing that nothing went on or nothing happened. Nowadays, this usage is not one which you would expect to find in formal, especially written contexts, but it is especially common in dialect and rarely (if ever) causes genuine confusion, and can often give a subtle shade of meaning.

The Oxford English Dictionary has betrayed us all.


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