Literature and Funhome

It seems interesting that Funhome includes a number of allusions to different works of literature, most notably so far, Albert Camus’s work and f Marcel Proust and F. Scott Fitzgerald. These stories all help to show the different things that are occurring throughout the story. I think that Alison Bechdel uses this very well because it helps to show a connection and reverence to other works of literature but also how they affect other people. Her dad was distant and cold most of the time but held a special reverence for the books and authors that he wrote. The authors seem to have a place for the Dad that is comforting and can be something that he seems content with. He identifies with the characters and the authors themselves when he writes to his future wife and is seen reading a different book each time that he is presented in a scene. I think too that some of the stories themselves have a special connection to Alison who saw her father through eh lens of the novels and not necessarily through what he was really like.  The use of books and literature help to show how the power of words and a good story can help explain things in our lives that we can’t explain ourselves. The discussion about Camus and absurdity and death/suicide is especially interesting because it develops from one story to another and to another medium through the graphic novel.  It is also somewhat engaging when they reference something in literature that I have read but frustrating when they mention works I haven’t read but it makes the reader  connect and identify characters within the graphic novel memoir to the other literary works.

3 thoughts on “Literature and Funhome”

  1. The fact that Fun Home makes so many allusions to literary works is one of the reasons I like this graphic novel so much. I guess I can also classify myself as “bookish,” whatever that’s supposed to mean, so I found myself reminiscing about the times I read these books as Bechdel brought them up. It’s such a wide range, too! Everything from Joyce and Proust to greek mythology and gender studies… so basically, Fun Home is the Holy Grail of nerdom and all that is good in the world.

  2. I agree that Bechdel’s use of literary allusions is striking in Fun Home. I felt that Bechdel uses many of these allusions to help her better understand her father, who was heavily engrossed in literature. Although her father was distant and, in many ways, unreadable for Bechdel , she has been able to use the books that he held dear to translate his attitudes into something she could comprehend. He encouraged her to read from his library, introducing her to his life and helping her grasp who he is. Bechdel makes it clear that he was neither vocal nor the sharing type, so allowing her to explore his literature was a secondhand way of explaining who he was.

    These books, furthermore, were the link that kept Bechdel and her father together throughout her adolescence. Although she was “modern to his Victorian,” the timelessness of the literature that they share forged a bond between them that somewhat reflects literature in general: older classic pieces influencing newer experimental pieces. And while we can say that the two have very little in common, this cannon allows the elder to pass down a legacy of knowledge that is still relevant in her time. By recalling these stories, moreover, Bechdel is able to recollect her experiences with her father in a positive light; without these allusions, the connection between the two would be forced or nonexistence.

    1. I also agree that Bechdel might have been using literary allusions to better understand her father. I think that another reason she did so was because her relationship with her father seemed to revolve around reading and literature. Reading is one of the things that tied her to her father which is probably why she focuses a lot on books and writing throughout the novel. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if her obsessive compulsive disorder played a role in this use of literary allusions as well. Bechdel’s attempt to fit parts of her life’s stories into parts of different stories seemed to me in a way similar to the way she used to act when her OCD was fully heightened. On page 135 Bechdel mentions that when she used to want to enter a room and she failed to add up the edges of flooring into an even number she would then include a subdivision of the edges so she could meet her requirements. I think that, similarly, in a way she may have been unconsciously attempting to suit her compulsive tendencies by putting her life stories in the contexts of different pieces of literature. In the past such a technique worked to calm her anxieties, so why wouldn’t she try to heal her trauma by using such a technique.

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