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The Silent History app debuted in October and released one Testimonial—the primary narrative unit of the text—per weekday in serial format, concluding the full release of the text in April These gathered Testimonials record the history of a plague, later identified as a virus, that renders the language centers of infants inaccessible from the moment of their birth through their maturation into adults.

Like the narrative units of the great nineteenth-century works of serial literature, the Testimonials are self-contained, digestible stories that intertwine with each other to form a more complex whole yet remain internally coherent. As any reader of the great serialists Charles Dickens or Henry James knows, these serialized parts must not only strive for a coherence that will allow them to puncture the print noise surrounding them, but they also must generate ongoing interest though as readers of Dickens and James also know, techniques for generating such interest can vary greatly.

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Such novels thus had multiple narrative timelines and structures to suit their multiple formats: the chapter or group of chapters published serially; the part, or third, of a fully completed work that would be read on its own and then returned to the library for another third, making it possible for three separate readers to be reading from what would ultimately be a single print work; and finally that bound work itself, comprising all three parts or bound from individual subscriptions.

Authors of such multimodal works thought not only of the pleasure or anticipation produced in their weekly readers, but also were required to produce parts and wholes on multiple scales that could serve many ways in which the novel might be read, transported, and shared. Put more simply, novels have had a long history of working playfully with their distribution methods. The Silent History places itself within this tradition, and speaks also to the generation of works that have emerged within digital formats determined to query how the ways in which they might appear or engage readers might change the very shape of the narratives they produce.

In this respect, then, The Silent History is an interesting experiment in the movement from serial fiction to multiple-decker novel it is divisible not only into more than a hundred Testimonials but also into six equal parts, the amount that can be purchased at a time on iTunes.

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When Hanna finally succeeds in finding Hauptmann Heinrich Bohlke, the man who ordered her mutilation, her revenge is not through verbal accusation or through the use of the gun that she brings with her. She simply reveals to him her naked, disfigured body. At this moment she becomes — she is — the embodiment of unsightly barbarity and suffering, unprotected by the distancing mechanisms of literary analysis, the aesthetics of the well-crafted novel or any insistence on meaning.

She knows she will later be arrested and probably killed, but in presenting her damaged body — and later forcing the officer to walk naked through the streets of the town — she tells her story more eloquently and, Brink argues, more truthfully than any number of words.

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In presenting the mute body of the victim, Brink, as with the other authors studied here, forces the reader to confront the unadulterated truth of barbarity, the dehumanising viewpoint of the aggressor and, as Tanner predicts, the collapse of the human spirit as language subsides beneath the irrefutable weight of the body as the prime evidence of pain and trauma.

This dependence on the physicality of the victim is also central to Foe by J. Like Hanna X he has had his tongue cut out. According to the elderly Cruso, tending his terraced gardens on his remote and unnamed island, previous slaveowners committed this brutal act. This presents a constant dilemma for Susan who desperately wants to know his history as part of the bigger project of having Foe, the author, write an account of their unadventurous lives on the island and so validate her own textual wholeness through the act of textualisation.

And if Friday cannot speak, who has the right to speak on his behalf? As for Foe, his considerations go little further than the pragmatic reality of a reading public eager for excitement, intrigue and maybe a little shock value. Without the full facts or a simulacrum of the facts and for him either will do , he does not believe he has a viable story to tell.

It is too much the same throughout. It is like a loaf of bread. It will keep us alive, certainly, if we are starved of reading; but who will prefer it when there are tastier confections and pastries to be had? This desire is not driven by a sincere search for truth.

Rather it is her hope for a comforting sense of normality. The fact that such prattle lacks any real communication does not diminish its importance for her in the slightest. Yet such dependence on voice and writtenness increases the risk of fabrication or exaggeration. Susan constantly toys with the possibility of using words to alter, manipulate and expand upon reality.

Coetzee rejects such a process — he alerts the reader to the dispossessed without extending the process of invention to a transgressive assumption of voice. The paradox, of course, lies in his very attempt to bring Friday into our imagination.

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While Coetzee does not give a voice to Friday or to the whole experience of black slavery, he draws our attention to his voicelessness and the inadequacy of the canon of western literature to speak on behalf of the subjugated Other. Again, where art flounders the physicality of the body steps in to fill this very appropriate lacuna. Ever present and cruelly maimed Friday stands, like Hanna X, as a constant if often uncomfortable reminder of the challenges to literary representation when confronting the very literal voicelessness of a subjected people.

This experiment has all the key elements of a Shakespearean tragedy — autocratic power, deluded zealotry and the irrevocable chasm between speech and silence, the said and the unsaid. Resisting all attempts by the medical staff to tell his story, Alec holds within his silent body the truth of barbaric warfare and cannibalism — the antithesis of the supposed glory of battle.

Rich, Haunting, Immersive

This thankless creature was despised, feared, weighed down by the sins of humanity, and he carried on this task until the hag, Baba Yaga, lead him to his death. In a monstrous degeneration of the religious idea of the chosen one, Alec believes that he is the one who will similarly hold the knowledge of human atrocity secure from the rest of his community. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.

Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Marian died by her own hand exactly one year ago. The author approaches Marian's death from the viewpoints of the people that touched her life including her lover, her best friend, and even her enemies. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published February 7th by Penguin Books first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Year of Silence , please sign up.

Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of The Year of Silence. Sep 26, Ray LaManna rated it liked it. This novel, though well written, was a bit disjointed and somewhat confusing.

  1. The Unsaid: The Silence of Virginia Woolf.
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  3. Silence in the Literature of Atrocity.

It was difficult to connect each of the stories with the main plot-the death of Marian. I think the author should have been more precise in his development of plot and even the arranging of the chapters. Apr 23, Chloe rated it did not like it Shelves: abandoned. I was absolutely in love with the beautiful cover - the foggy city perched atop a little piano - and it was short and only a dollar.

I decided it was worth taking back home. Now, however, I'm half tempted now to tear off the cover and throw the rest of the book away, since the cover is the only appealing thing about it. It's not a long book, and I began it with the resolution that no matter how much I liked or disliked it, I would finish it. After all, you can't appreciate a truly great book until you've read a few truly terrible or simply mediocre ones.