Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
The Eye of the Scarecrow is one of Harris’s more disjointed novels as far as language and sequence of events are concerned. The novel is in the form of a diary. Over nine months, the diarist, N., seeks a new way of rendering life by letting past events speak for themselves as he surrenders to a “visionary organization of memory,” free from tedious realism.
Through the diary entries, the reader perceives N. as introspective, prone to hallucinations, and highly sensitive, while his friend L. is practical and levelheaded, “the engineer in charge of the expedition.” In his diary, written in 1963 and 1964, N. is trying to reconstruct the events of the year 1948, which witnessed a major, if abortive, miners’ strike in Georgetown. That year is confused, in N.’s recollections, with 1929, the year of the beginning of the Great Depression. The diary itself covers a nine-month period, symbolic of gestation, the creation of a new person. It opens with N. describing the funeral processions of the fallen strikers of 1948. The confusion between years and between the symbols of birth (N. writes that he is “riding out of the womb”) and death (the funeral hearse) gradually takes over the whole novel, and it leads in the final section to a full fusion of the narrator and L. This is rendered more baffling by the occasional repetition of earlier segments of the book. This fusion of apparent opposites is hinted at in an earlier reference to L. and N....
(The entire section is 527 words.)
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