Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Exiles

I've noticed (not for the first time) that exiles play a big role in a lot of my writing. Sometimes it's a single person cast out for some reason. Sometimes (more often), it's an entire society--the Morhali of Darkness have been driven from their native lands; the Genies of Genies fled their original city to create what they still called even 5 centuries later, "The City in Exile"; and the entire population of my current novel has fled the Forgotten South to live in exile. This last one especially has exiles within exiles because of the strict caste society and people being cast out.

The theme seems to pop up elsewhere as well, in more metaphorical ways--the blind narrator of Genies, for example, is an exile even among his own people.

I wonder what it is about exile that it seems to come up so often. I don't personally feel exiled, even though I don't live where I grew up. But I know I find something very poignant about the entire concept. I remember hearing the story that when my grandfather sailed to the US, his father refused to speak to anyone for a long time, I want to say an entire year. They left, knowing they'd never see each other alive again. Someone could probably do something with that image that would make it feel merely sentimental...but there's just something about it, something about exile in general, that resists mere sentiment, that makes it powerful, I guess. It makes me think of LeGuin's discussion of archetypes.

I almost went off on a tangent there as to what archetype it might be, but I deleted it. Anyway, anyone who happens to stop by, I'd love to hear suggestions of novels or stories you can think of that deal with exile, whether literally or figuratively, in interesting ways.

2 comments:

B. A. Barnett said...

You know, I'm sure I've read plenty of stuff that touches on the exile theme, but the only one from my bookshelf leaping out at me is Ursula LeGuin's The Eye of the Heron, which takes the very literal route of a prison world where you have two very different groups exiled.

Daniel Ausema said...

I like LeGuin's writing, so I may have to look into that one--thanks!