Silencing the Other in ‘The Artist’ (2006) by Maggie Gee
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Abstract: The study proposes an interpretation of Maggie Gee’s short story The Artist (2006) through Bakhtinian perspective, which enables its reading both as a piece of social criticism and as a mediation about the true artist’s capacity for empathy and responsiveness towards the Other. A nontrivial meditation about the dimensions of being an Artist is conceived in an elaborate narrative, revealing the protagonist’s lack of ethical consciousness and sensitivity through some formal means. The first set of means foregrounds monological aspects of Emma’s (a would-be artist) approaching Boris (a migrant worker), which leads to his objectivized image, and its silencing as an equal subject. The ‘central consciousness’ mode of narration with signs of unreliability is combined with instances of the unexpected shifts from Emma’s to Boris’s point of view, some effects of ellipsis, and a ‘circular story’ structure in order to provide a key to satirical message of the author. The second set of formal means are signs and symbols, which represent lack of protagonist’s sensitivity and ‘answerability’ to the Other: the protagonist’s ability to perform (verbally and corporeally) with empathy is questioned. Her vision is highly selective and displaced, which is rendered through ‘ostranenie’ (Shklovsky). Ironic and playful use of title is combined with a repetition of attributive ‘sensitive’, used and understood in a different way all through the story, which deconstructs a banal love story and widespread cultural preconceptions, gives way to a social drama of migrants’ silencing, and finally questions the artist’s ethics.
Key words: Maggie Gee; artistic self; the Other; answerability; silencing; dialogism in fiction.
Dzhumaylo, O. A. (2020). Silencing the Other in ‘The Artist’ (2006) by Maggie Gee. In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №4. P. 173–180. DOI 10.26170/FK20-04-17.