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Alice  Munro
艾莉絲.孟洛
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主要文類:Novel
資料提供者:Kate Liu (劉紀雯);Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
關鍵字詞:World Literature; Canadian Literature

艾莉絲.孟洛
一九三一∼

Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
 
生平簡介

她的著名代表作品

 
 

生平簡介

生長於美洲中西部農場的艾莉絲.孟洛,在平凡艱苦的生活中以異常敏銳的觀察力將日常生活瑣碎的人事物觀察入微並做詳實的記錄以為創作,這位人所稱為「加拿大安東.契可夫」的作家,著名的作品不只令人玩味,並且深具教育意義、發人深省,也正因為如此,孟洛的短篇故事得到多方獎項肯定,成為加拿大指標性作家之一。

 
一、家庭及教育背景
   

父親為狐狸養殖農夫勞伯.艾瑞克.雷洛、母親安.錢尼.雷洛曾任學校教師,生長序排行老大的艾莉絲.安.雷洛在就學時期便開始寫作 。直至一九四九年得到兩年的大學獎學金,艾莉絲才離開故鄉,前往安大略省的倫敦市就讀大學。在西安大略大學完成兩年學業後,她很快與詹姆士.孟洛結婚,並在溫哥華正式成為孟洛 太太,展開新生活。一九六○年代,孟洛的女兒們相繼出生,而孟洛一家人也從溫哥華搬到英屬哥倫比亞的維多利亞市定居並開設孟洛書坊,孟洛除了寫作、照顧家庭、三個年幼的孩子之外,也與丈夫一同經營書店。同時,她的作品接連在雜誌和期刊出現,也因而開始她的寫作生涯。

 
二、一個作家的誕生
   

一九七○年代,孟洛的婚姻觸礁,兩人不久後分道揚鑣,她帶著兩個年幼的女兒搬到尼爾遜並先後接下尼爾遜市、倫敦、和多倫多的約克大學的教職,教授創意寫作課程。一九七四年,她的母校-西安大略大學-認聘她為駐地作家,她也在這時候與她的第二任丈夫地理學者傑洛.費雷姆林在接近溫漢(孟洛故鄉)的克林頓市定居下來。值得一提的是,孟洛的母親因帕金森症過世後,其父勞伯.雷洛不久也開始寫作,作品在他過世後才出版,名為《麥奎格家族:一個安大略家庭的奮鬥史》。然而,溫漢鄉親似乎不領情,不但不以家鄉出了兩個作家而感到驕傲,反而對於他們的生活、人物的個性等先後屢屢出現在孟洛父女的故事中而感到不自在。

身為一名出色的作家,在一次專訪中,孟洛曾經透露她寫作的習慣。與其他多數作家不同的是,孟洛不擬大綱草稿,只是先寫下腦中出現的一個故事場景,然後一步步發展其敘事。她的第一個短篇故事選集《舞在快樂的陰影》在一九六八年甫出版就得到省長獎,三年後她的《女孩與女人們的歲月》再次贏得加拿大暢銷書卷獎。

孟洛的故事題材,多含有自傳性色彩,雖然她曾否認她的短篇故事中的主人翁是自己的化身、故事情節為親身經歷,然而她也曾經透露故事裡主人翁的描摹的確是基於真實情感的投射而來的。書評布拉傑指稱,孟洛的故事其實都是一次又一次的發現過程,故事情節引讀者進入故事本身與作者一同追尋真相。

 

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孟洛作品簡介


孟洛早期的作品中,主人翁的經歷反應其親身體驗:一個出身貧苦的鄉下少女自偏遠的安大略西南部為起點,為了自以為真切的理想而前進,但到頭來她卻理解自己其實並不清楚自己的目標,而自己也並不是所想的那樣的一個堅強個體,故事發展後期與一開始的信心成為強烈的對比,她益發不確定自己到底該往何處去 。而孟洛最令讀者驚奇的就是:她能夠將看似微小、再平凡不過的小人物、偶發事件描繪得栩栩如生,也讓平庸的主人翁們經歷看似稀鬆平常卻一點也不平凡的遭遇。

《舞在快樂的陰影》以一個平凡說故事者為首,開場的故事敘述一名貧苦孤單的少女因為出眾的觀察力而與故鄉同齡的孩子、同鄉里的村民們顯得格格不入。與書齊名的短篇故事則敘述一場音樂會裡,因為一個身心障礙的小女孩出色的鋼琴演奏而讓平日裡習慣了嘲笑這一群身障孩子的正常孩子與他們的母親們感到驚奇而羞愧。在這本選集裡,孟洛實驗性的描繪諷刺保守停滯不前的社會裡,人們心中的不安全感與人性中易被試煉而顯得不安定的個性。

《女孩與女人們的歲月》、《一直想要對你說的事》和《你以為你是誰啊》延續孟洛的風格,並深入探討人物的轉變。某些書評將孟洛的《女孩與女人們的歲月》與詹姆士.喬艾思的《一個年輕人的肖像》相比較。故事裡小鎮上的女主人翁黛兒.喬登在出發探索世界的同時,所遇見的人顯得十分奇特,經歷的事件與平凡的小鎮生活也截然不同,其中也包括她的情感變化,這些經驗都讓她漸漸放開視野胸懷,進而退便成為一個成熟的女人。《一直想要對你說的事》將時間線交錯,讓故事中的回憶與現實發生的經歷重疊,將過去與現在交疊進而探討主人翁的蛻變。《你以為你是誰啊》裡描寫更多主人翁探索世界時所經歷的挑戰和衝突。故事最終, 主人翁往往回憶湧現、提醒她別忘了原本純真的自我,從而回到故鄉,與真實世界裡已轉變的自我妥協並找到其內心的平靜 。

孟洛令書評們驚嘆的是她細膩的敘事方式,分析生活中平凡而細微的人事物,帶進不同的處事經驗、張開個人視野的冒險、或者回憶溯往,或者追尋真理、自我,她的文字真切而描寫真實,在在都像是在描述親身的經歷。書評 W.R. 馬丁就發現,孟洛的女主人翁多為觀察力敏銳的少女,正因為青春正值探索的年華,經歷許多新發現便容易產生新體驗、新想法,也因而自然容易將所見所聞所想付諸於文字。 馬丁同時指陳孟洛的作品中勾勒出一種平衡、協調卻又不失諷喻世人的本色,這都使得她的作品引人入勝。

在其後的《木星的月亮》、《愛的歷程》、《我青春時的朋友們》和《公開的祕密》裡,孟洛延續身分認同的自我追尋、人與人之間的關係,例如親子關係、情人關係等等,都在這些後期故事選集裡成為孟洛的探討重點。她小心地刻劃各個人物的易感、脆弱面,也同時揭露各角色裡的韌性和優勢。在兩性方面則於權力的分配建構出比較戲劇化的發展。《我青春時的朋友們》和《公開的祕密》有較相似的情節描述個人歷史與家庭秘辛。
孟洛的故事被廣泛閱讀之時,評論也源源不絕。在故事研究的學門裡,柯羅.安.侯威爾絲著重於孟洛的短篇故事形式、其多重意義的呈現以及主人翁漸強的意志展現;佩普.卡靈敦則呈現孟洛在故事中無所不在的權力表現,她批評孟洛過分佈局策劃人物的體驗與語言。而貝佛利.瑞絲波利荷討論孟洛的女性浪漫幻想以及追求自我的體驗;麥德蓮.瑞德寇對於孟洛的母女情節有深入的探討。

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Alice Munro

1931-

Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
 

 Biographic Sketch

 Her Works

 

 


 
Biographic Sketch 

Raised in a farm, Alice Munro learned to appreciate the hardship and cruelty of life and be observant for her life and her people with keen perspectives and meticulous description. Regarded as the Canadian Anton Chekov, Munro's works are not merely interesting and entertaining, but educating and inspiring so that she has become an iconic figure that has won awards and received literary recognition over the years.

 
A. Family Background and Education
   

As the eldest of the three children to Robert Eric Laidlaw, the fox farmer, and Ann Chamney Laidlaw, a schoolteacher once, Alice Anne Laidlaw began to write when she was still at school. She stayed with her family until 1949 when she received a two-year scholarship and left for college education in London, Ontario. The second year in University of West Ontario, she married James Munro and started her new life in Vancouver. In the 1960s, the Munros moved to Victoria, B.C. to establish a book business; by then, Munro has given birth to three daughters, Sheila, Jenny and Andrea, and in the meanwhile, her short stories have appeared regularly in magazines and periodicals, and she began to take her writings seriously in view of supporting her family and writing habitually.

In 1970s, Munro's marriage with James Munro gradually dissolved and the couple divorced. She brought two daughters to move to Nelson and accepted the position of teaching creative writing, first in Nelson B.C., then in London, Ontario, and afterward in York University at Toronto. In 1974, her old school, University of Western Ontario, had her as a writer-in-residence, and soon she settled down with her second husband, geographer Gerald Fremlin, in Clinton, Ontario, where it is close to her hometown Wingham. What is intriguing remark is that Munro's father Robert Laidlaw became a writer as well, and his work was published shortly after his death. Wingham townfolks, however, did not express enjoyment or pride for having their lives and characters portrayed under such spotlight, being scrutinized as sources in Laidlaw's The Macgregors: A Novel of an Ontario Pioneer Family (1979) and Munro's works.
 
B. The Career of a Writer
   


A talented writer she is, in an interview, Munro once revealed that she does not plan her stories; instead, she is used to writing a scene and then developing the story from there. Her first short story collection Dance of the Happy Shades was published and won Governor General's Award in 1968, and three years later, Lives of Girls and Women made her acknowledged as a winner of Canadian Booksellers' Award.

It is believed that most of Munro's stories derived from her personal experience. Though denying the short stories being autobiographical, she does concede that her characters are portrayed on the basis of the emotional reality. E. D. Blodgett points out that Munro's stories are actually like a "discovery procedure" that invites readers to find the truth with her; he believes that "the registers of truth, falsehood, art, feigning, legend, fantasy, and hearsay combine in various ways to make the reader continually ponder how something is known and understood" (7).

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 Her Works

 

 

Munro's heroines in her early short stories resemble her own experience: the girl, growing from a poor family in southwestern rural Ontario town, seems to be certain about who she is and what she wants to do all along the story, but she always turns out to be unsure and begins to seek her identity. Munro marvels her readers and critics by turning the trivial and commonplace event into extraordinary adventure.

Dance of the Happy Shades has stories from one common narrator. The opening story tells an isolated girl from a poverty origin outshines her peers and folks by her exceptional ability of observation, reflection and inner-search. The title story narrates a piano recital where the normalcy is confronted with the abnormality; when a retarded girl, with her fine performance, stuns the normal students' mothers, who have been jeering the opposite of the normal children, the irony renders the so-called normalcy baffled and speechless. In many stories in this collection, Munro experiments on social reticence and illustrates the unstable elements in humanity, such as the feeling of insecurity in egoistic characters.

The sequences of the first collection are Lives of Girls and Women (1968), Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You (1974) and Who Do You Think You Are? (1978) in which Munro explores the transformation of characters. Some critics somehow compare Lives of Girls and Women with James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The small town heroine Del Jordan is out to the world and comes across eccentric characters, astounding events and sensational experience that lead the protagonist open her eyes and heart and complete the course of transformation, like a chameleon. Something I've been meaning to Tell You strives to engage the contemporary world into retrospective recollection. Unlike reminiscence derived from the past life, this collection actually collides the past with the present. Who Do You Think You Are? depicts more confrontation and more challenges for the protagonists that have been exploring the ordinary world; what's more, the protagonists head home after their consciousness reminds themselves who they really are and make them reconcile with their true identities.

Munro amazes the critics with her astute scrutiny over trifles in life and then her meticulous pictorial about the experiences, adventures, retrospect and the quest of the protagonists. W. R. Martin, who finds her first-person narrating protagonists mostly young and perceptive girls fascinating because "it is the young who are most absorbed by discoveries, epiphanies, and who try hardest to catch new and often disturbing experiences in some sort of net of words" (199); in addition, with symmetry and irony interwoven in her works, Martin acclaims Munro's stories aesthetically inspiring and satisfying.

The theme of the identity-quest continues in her following books: The Moons of Jupiter (1982), The Progress of Love (1986), Friend of My Youth(1991) and Open Secrets (1994). The issue of human relationships is further examined under the scope of the author. Whatever kinds of relationship is her target, for instance, parent-child or romantic relations, Munro carefully presents the vulnerability and the strength of her characters, and the power struggle between genders or classes permeates in the dramatic scenes within the stories. The same intriguing themes of personal history or family secrets appear in Friend of My Youth and Open Secrets. Coral Ann Howells regards Munro's stories in Friend of My Youth as "not exercises in sentimental nostalgia but attempts to discover new significance in the present by making connections with the past" (101); moreover, she notices that Munro further complicates the space and time of the present and the past, and that appears to be overlapping Open Secrets.

As Munro's stories are vastly read, so is the critical industry formed to survey her works. Among studies and critics, Howells centers on Munro's short story form and change in "increasing indeterminacy and multiple meanings" (146). Papp Carrington focuses on "Munro's consciously ambivalent attempts to control what is uncontrollable in experience and in language" (Howells 142); she actually presents "a darker Munro" that appears to be manipulative all over in the stories. Beverly J. Rasporich discusses Munro's "female romance fantasy, women's quests for independence" (144), and Magdalene Redekop points out particularly the mother-daughter relationship in Munro's stories (ibid).

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Reference

"Alice Munro." Contemporary Author. Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2003.

"Alice Munro." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Gale.

"Alice Munro." Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 53: Canadian Writers Since 1960, First Series. Ed. W. H. New. Gruccoli Clark Layman Book. The Gale Group, 1986. 295-307.

Howells, Coral Ann. Alice Munro. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1998.

Blodgett, E. D. Alice Munro. Boston: Twayne, 1988.

Martin, W. R. Alice Munro. Edmunton, CA: University of Alberta P, 1987. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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