Structure and Content-wk 6

I read for this week both the 2/2/1914 issue and the 4/1/1914 issue of The Egoist. The sections of Portrait in these two editions are placed as the narrative focus (being the only sections that are serialized novels) and are individually structured to create a narrative hook.

In both issues, Portrait appears as the only prose form of artistry, although there are: poems (a set in each issue), a set of dialogues in the April 1 edition that reads almost like a play, a translation of “The Horses of Diomedes” that also reads like a play in the February 2 edition, a set of book reviews in the February edition, and a series of articles, ranging from issues about chastity to the Chinese. Many of the themes presented in the pieces included have themes of religion, politics, and artistry. The question of who artists are, with relation to themselves and the general public, comes up regularly. For instance, Huntly Carter rails against the artist becoming “de-individualised” through the sale of art (Egoist Feb 2, 1914 p. 58), Leigh Henry writes that “The artist does, not what others consider beautiful, but what for himself is a necessity” (Egoist April 1, 1914 p. 123), and Edgar A. Mowrer writes that “The true artist has but one end : the expression of his vision into the immanence of things” (Egoist April 1, 1914 p. 135). The content of Portrait is, then, congruous, with the ideas already in motion in The Egoist.

In the February 2 edition, the first that Portrait appears in, it has no preamble—just dives right in. The section ends with the protagonist falling asleep and wishing that he better understood questions about God and politics. The section that ends the April 1 edition is the scene where the protagonist is flogged for his broken glasses—the scene ends with the frightening promise/threat that the flogger will re-appear every day. Each of these endings provides the necessary “hook” for readers to want more. In the first, there is this begged question: “Will Stephen grow to understand the nature of God and the intricacies of politics?” In the second, the hook is a haunting one: “Will Stephen be beaten each new day?” Like Stephen, readers are left with this looming anxiety of what will happen. These hooks, while present in the book version, were lost to me as a reader because I have the luxury of completion. I have the whole book. The only hook needed for me is the one starting chapter 1. However, in terms of content structure, a hook at the end of each section is very important in a serialization because it’s what keeps readers buying more! This is reflected in the Feb 2 issue in that the final page of the edition contains an ad to purchase a subscription to The Egoist. The editors want to have their readers hooked and wanting more.