chapter  5
18 Pages

The Fourth Side: The Blithedale Romance

Thefourthsideborrowsatermfromtheatre, todescribetheopennessofthestagefromthe perspectiveoftheaudience(andalsothedirector, andwriter).TheBlithedaleRomancedrawsheavily onthetheatricalmetaphorandtherebyinsistsof anyanalysisthatittakefullyintoaccountthe receptionaestheticwhichisbuiltintothetext. ThefourthsideisalsoatermusedinJacques Derrida'sacerbiccriticismofLacan'scelebrated "SeminaronthePurloinedLetter."Derridapoints outthatPoe'sstorycannotberegardedsimplyin termsoftriangularscenes,asLacanwouldhaveit, becausethe"generalnarrator"alsomakes significantcomments.Lacandescribeshowthe participantsinthetriangularsituationinturn each1mag1nethemselvestobeunseenwhileseeing: "Thethirdseesthatthefirsttwoglancesleave whatshouldbehiddenexposedtowhoeverwould seizeit:theminister,andfinallyDupin.•••Three partners:thesecondbelievingitselfinvisible becausethefirsthasitsheadstuckintheground, andallthewhilelettingthethirdcalmlypluck itsrear"[l].Attheend,Dupinissaidtobreak offhistemporaryidentificationwiththeminister, sowithdrawingfromthecircuit-whichforLacan isacircuitofadequationinvolvingrestitutionof thelettertoitsproperplaceinreturnforasort ofspendingofwealth-leavingDupinastheonly onewhoseeseverything.Thereisnoneedhereto investigatethecomplexitiesofDerrida'sattack upontheanalystfortakinguptheroleofDupin andimaginingthathe,unseen,seeseverything,or believingthatheisreturningthe"letter"of d'steachingtothemaster,outofthehan

"cooks"likeMarieBonaparte[2].WhatIwishto adoptisthestrategicrecognitionofthefourth side,asthetextualframewhichenableswriterand readertostandbackandsee.InTheBlithedale RomanceMilesCoverdaleprovidesthatfourthside, beingwriterandreaderaswellasparticipantin thedramaticactionhedescribes,ofwhichthe otherthreesidesareconstitutedbytheperceptual positionsofZenobia,Hollingsworth,andPriscilla [3]•

Inthetext,tofollowupLacan'smetaphor, Priscillaseesnothing,beingbeneaththeveil; Hollingsworthseesonlyhisownscheme,thatis, himself;ZenobiaseesHollingsworthandPriscilla; butnoneofthemreallyseeCoverdale,whoseesall ofthem.Hencethefourthside.Butwe,the readers,areincludedinthisfourthside,along withtheeffacedauthor.Thedistancesthus establishedareworthnotice:whatlittleaction thereistakesplacebetweenPriscilla, HollingsworthandZenobia;itisobservedby Coverdale,whowritesofitmanyyearslater,tobe readbyus,theaudienceofreaders.Theuseofa narratorwhoisbothinandoutofthegameisnot initselfexceptional,butitbecomessowhenthe subjectofthetextispreciselythatdistance betweenthenarratorandexperience,hisvoyeurism or,inotherwords,thesupplement:

Inusingthetermvoyeurismacertainmoral disapprobationisimpliedwhichisavoidedwhenwe considertheinescapabilityofsupplementarityin language,whetherwrittenorspoken,symbolic perception;oreven"nature"[5].Itmaybethought thatDerrida's"scandal"impliesdisapprobation fromthevantageofanessentialistmetaphysic deniedbyhisowndiscourse.Butitisexactlythat

TheFourthSide

insecuritythatisdescribedasscandalous,in contrasttothecomplacencywithwhichwereaders (voyeurs)accuseCoverdaleofourowndisposition [6].Whichostrichdoesonewishtobe?