More waiting until he could marry catherine and live

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more, waiting until he could marry Catherine and live with her as a respected country gentleman? Why prince Andrej could not recover from his mortal illness and marry Natasha? Why Raskolnikov had the morbid idea of killing an old lady instead of finish- ing his studies and becoming a respected professional? Why, when Gregor Samsa was transformed into a horrible bug, a beautiful princess did not arrive, kissing him and transforming him into the most handsome young man in Prague? Why on the arid hills of Spain Robert Jordan could not beat those fascist pigs and join again his sweet Maria? Now, in principle it is enough to buy a computer program for rewriting Oedipus, Ham- let , Wuthering Heights , War and Peace , Crime and Punishment , The Metamorphosis , For Whom the Bell Tolls . We can do it. But do we really want to do so? The devastating experience of discovering that, in spite of our wishes, Hamlet, Robert Jordan or Prince Andrej died, that things happened in that way, and forever, no matter what we wanted, hoped or yearned during the course of our reading, makes us to feel the shiver of Destiny. We realize that we cannot decide whether Ahab will capture the Whale or not. The real lesson of Moby Dick is that the whale goes wherever She wants. The charm of the great tragedies comes from the fact that their heroes, instead of escaping an atrocious fate, fall into the abyss that they have dug with their own hands because they do not know what expects them — and we, who we see clearly where they are blindly going, cannot stop them. We have a cognitive access to the world of Oedipus and we know everything about him and Jocasta but they, even if living in a parasitical world which depends on our own, do not know anything about us. A fictional character cannot communicate with his/her counterparts in the actual world. 1 Such a problem is not as whimsical as it seems. Please try to take it seriously. Oedipus cannot conceive of the world of Sophocles — otherwise he would have not married his mother. Fictional characters live in an incomplete (or, to be more rude and politically incorrect) handicapped world . But when we really understand their fate, we start to suspect that we, too, as the citizens of the actual world, frequently undergo our destiny just because we think of our world in the same way as the fictional characters think of their own. Fiction suggests that perhaps our view of the actual world is as much imperfect as that of fictional char- acters. This is why successful fictional characters become paramount examples of the ‘real’ human condition. 2 References Dumas Eco, Umberto 1979. The Role of the Reader . Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1 On these questions see my The Role of the Reader (Eco 1979). 2 A version of this text has been presented by the author in the University of Tartu on May 6, 2009.
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