The two works, “Farther Away” and an expert from “Skating into the Antartica,” both give the reader a sense of independence and longing. The way that the writer presents their passages and their own use of diction throughout the stories, deals a lot with the idea of isolation. After reading both pieces I questioned a couple ideas including being trapped mentally and physically and the way that both authors presented their tones to the audience.
We find out from background research that the author of “Skating into the Antartica,” Jenny Diski, faces mental illness. She wrote this non-fiction book through a troubled time and throughout Franzen’s essay, we figure out that his dear friend’s suicide, and ashes, and his homesickness really grow on him. Both writers set on adventures with a lot of baggage, yet see the world in marvelous ways. “The setting was spectacular—sweeping hills, volcanic peak, whitecaps ocean” (Franzen’s description of the island towards the end of the essay.)
Both readers face isolation mentally (with their troubles) and find ways to reckon with it, through writing. Georgia and Masafurea could figuratively be represented as their minds, and the struggles they face with their self-discoveries. Diski does slightly talk about being alone in her essay, and Franzen does as well. Both use their trauma or pain to guide them throughout their journeys, and both can relate to the idea of being trapped emotionally in their minds, and physically on the island and town.
Both writers used a generous amount of figurative language and literary devices, which help the reader imagine their destinations and sights. I personally did like Diski’s literary devices, because it helped give a more intimate dialogue between the reader and herself through the passage. I found her to tend to romanticize her descriptions of landscapes and observations, “the sea as flat as a pancake and blue as the sky,” which at times I found to be extremely phony. Franzen is a lot more honest in his writing and expresses himself more simply. “I hadn’t felt so homesick since, possibly, the last time I’d camped by myself.” I feel as though he did a more productive job at relating his essay to himself, while Diski used her observations to create opinions. I found the way they connected to the readers to be very different as well. Diski used the second person in the writing. She questioned the audience a couple times, with a sarcastic tone and became a little persuasive in her writing when talking about whales. Franzen observed many details on his journey but related the passage to himself so much, at times it felt like a diary entry.
Personally, I was not a big fan of either piece, but I think it gave me an interesting perspective to compare and contrast these two works. I think it was important to see how reality and everyday life (Jenny Diski’s mental illness) might add to ones writing, as well as how personal an author can make trauma in relation to a journey. Comparing their works in reference to being trapped psychically and mentally was an innovative way to look at the texts. Even though both authors gave me a similar idea, flowing the passage with honesty or literary devices, made all the difference.