By Bernard Malamud
This number of brief tales by means of Bernard Malamud includes:
The Silver Crown
Man within the Drawer
Notes from a woman at a Dinner Party
My Son the Murderer
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Extra resources for Rembrandt's Hat
Pickwick', 'Twist' and 'Nickleby', for instance, are all phonetically similar to Dick-ens. Moreover, it is not just the echo of a name but also that of an T buried in a fictional counterpart. 33. Quoted in Jack Lindsay, Charles Dickens: A Biographical and Critical Study (London: A. Dakers, 1950) p. 60. Oliver, for example, 'represents' Dickens the helpless child in need of care and protection, while the demonic Quilp 'represents' Dickens the man of intense energy and black humour. The narrator cannot remember the words he used when he called down to the signalman ('1 cried something to the eHect'), nor is he even sure what he spoke to the signalman about ('those long and lonely hours of which 1 seemed to make so much').
1 This uncertainty was not endorsed by the major novels of the period, but it did find expression in what has been called the 'literature of the fantastic'. 2 According to Todorov, the chief characteristic of such writing was that it established, in both the protagonist and the reader, hesitation over whether events in the story had a natural or a supernatural explanation. In this, it corresponded to exactly the kind of doubt that beset the Victorians: namely, whether they should interpret their world from a spiritual or a secular point of view.
However, there is something of a tautology here in that the signalman's duties consist of 'exactness and watchfulness'; they alone 'were what was required of hirn'. Thus the signalman performs his duty by performing his duty, he is exact by being exact, and this repetition, instead of emphasising the point, merely makes it redundant. A surfeit is created which cannot be accommodated within the tight narrative structure. There are two ways of accounting for this. First, it is not surprising that apart of the story should be tautological when the same is true of the whole, for 'The signalman' is a twice-told tale; the story that is told to the narrator is the same one as he in his turn teIls to his readers.