Problematizing Authenticity: David Canaanâ€™s Self-articulation
W.J.T. Mitchell, in her essay, â€œRepresentations,â€ observes that â€œIf literature is a â€˜representation of life,â€™ then representation is exactly the place where â€˜life,â€™ in all its social and subjective complexity, gets into the literary workâ€ (Mitchell 15). Further, she notices that through representation we make our will known. However, how authentically do we make our will and identity known in the process of representation? When does our representation become meaningful and authentic? These are the important issues which are raised in Ernest Bucklerâ€™s The Mountain and the Valley. What Buckler achieves in his novel is not achieved by his artist-hero, David Canaan. Whereas Bucklerâ€™s representation is proved authentic in its exploration of the social and subjective complexity of life,â€™ Davidâ€™s writings fail to do so. Readers continuously ponder over Davidâ€™s failure to become a writer. The present paper, therefore, probes the way David responds to life and the unresolved problems of representation he faces in his abortive writings. The paper claims that the problems of representation in Davidâ€™s writing are closely related to his understanding of the â€˜self.â€™ The dilemma is primarily his inability to decipher the relationship of the â€˜selfâ€™ with the world.