Thursday was my presentation. Actually, it was the first presentation that I've had to do since my thesis a year and a half ago, but luckily I didn't think about that, or I'd have been nervous.
Anyway, I chose a deconstructionist article on Vathek (curse you, Derrida, Barthes! I'll never escape you!) I chose it partly becuase it was really interesting, partly because it was short (my classmates would appreciate that), and partly because it was the only thing I could find solely on Vathek (see prior post). It basically argued that Vathek undoes itself because it's an English translation of a French original that uses Arabic for its roots--hence the deconstructionist interpretation. The article made some interesting points, but instead of talking about them, went on forever about how it's impossible to truly translate a name. How silly.
The presentation itself went really well and my classmates discussed the work. It was supposed to be only 20 minutes, but I think we all got to talking and it took up more like 40 instead. (Not my fault--my professor jumped in a lot to discuss points).
A side note:
A fairy-story (or fairy tale) does not equal a children's story. I'm sure this will come up in class on Tuesday, so I'm ready to jump down someone's throat (nicely, I hope). I said that Vathek was an oriental fairy-tale, and one of my classmates said "Yeah, it did make me think of a child's story..." I didn't have a chance to clarify because the discussion swept into another direction (I had to start my presentation), but what I meant by fairy tale is a story that creates its own believable world outside that of the reader. For 19th century readers, the Orient was so different then their own (at least the Orient of Western imagination) that literature about the East tends toward the fairy-story anyway. And Beckford certainly crafted it that way.
For a really interesting essay on the fairy-story, please read "On Fairy Stories" by J.R.R. Tolkien. This essay changed my life when I read it and was highly influential on my thinking of the world of Faerie and stories.