Friday, August 07, 2009

The plot thickens

Thinking about the "failure" hypothesis for MPF, here's what I come up with:

  • Hypothesis 1: "Failure"--does that mean simply failure to become as famous as Famous Author? Problem: Like most writers, Famous Author had a lot of friends who hadn't become famous or indeed ever left his home town, but he used the concept of failure primarily for this one. Is it just that MPF didn't live up to Famous Author's expectations? Other references speak of MPF in glowing and affectionate terms.
  • Hypothesis 2: MPF died fairly young and on a significant national holiday. He was a military man, so did he maybe kill himself? Problem: See #3.
  • Hypothesis 3: A letter of condolence to MPF's widow speaks of MPF and his loved ones being "prepared" for his death and his dying in peace (so much for #2). It also speaks of remembering the good parts about MPF and his life. Now, this could mean that he had an illness (TB, cancer, etc.) that led to some kind of physical deterioration. It could also mean something like alcoholism, which could help account for an early (and expected) death. Problem: MPF, as a public figure, apparently gave eloquent speeches, although I haven't found any yet. (That'll have to wait for the microfilm to arrive.) Of course, all the stuff about "peace" could simply be standard condolence rhetoric.

    What's interesting about this, to me at least, is the way in which it affects my reading of the letters. I read a sentence and think, "Is that genuine praise of MPF or the praise of pity?" It's like reading the letters and a negative of the letters in which everything could have two meanings.

    I'll have to receive more documents before I can unravel this.
  • No comments: