Felice, 1965 Fiction; 3 pages; Complete. Philadelphia, PA Age: 13; Adolescence; an anxious social period; Psychological fiction;


First page of Felice. Mss_0009_01.

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Notebook paper sheets; Handwritten; this must be a fair copy, because the text went through iterations.Ballpoint pen; Excellent condition;

Prose; Loss of identity; A girl who has absorbed the character traits of others finds she has no identity of her own and so she dissolves. Felice.

The handwriting on this page suggests the story was written in the same period as Roddy. The peculiar quality of the majuscule "F" and the long loopiness of the letterforms in general has a clarity and care that suggest this was a copy of a story that had been through several phases. The story is distilled, clear, makes its point with a real economy of means.

Related mss: Mirror, Mirror

I have entered adolescence, that cruel stage of life, when self dissolves into anxiety at every moment and the questions of identity beset me from every side. I am still finishing my year at Masterman, but I have been drawn into the drama of my attraction to Amy. I am an unwelcome and largely unsuccessful suitor for her attention, and I see the difficulties of social life everywhere. I live the adolescent hell of complete insecurity and uncertainty, without any sense of how to proceed in being a self even as I struggle to give myself to the embryonic relationship with the person I want for my best friend. I see the social intrigues around me in the lunchroom, in the girl life of cafeteria and busstop, recess yard and whatever slight afterschool activities we have in our small junior high school clique. We hurt each other to feel our own power, and I continue to take refuge in writing books and stories.

This story is focused on the question of identity. The main character has borrowed her personality traits from the figures in the world around her. She imitates the manner of one, the speech of another, the tone of voice of someone else, and so on so that she is only a composite of traits, all simulacral. Doubts about the authenticity of being and self are central to the moods of that phase of my development, and the aspirations towards Amy as other and object of desire are bound to the insecurities about myself and identity. The intensity of reflection on who I was and how was clearly embodied in this short story, and its economical prose allowed for a vivid expression of the psychological dilemmas at its core.

The clarity of the prose is unique among the manuscripts from this time. I would not compose anything else so complete or straightforward again. A small window of explicit directness had opened, but it was before the tangled obscurities in which the Amy writings were wrapped, or seemed to need to be, came to dominate my prose. Not only would the relationship need to be occulted, but the motivations of characters within the plots tapped into obscure emotions whose existence seemed to require they remain without explanation. By the time I surfaced from the relationship with Amy, in late adolescence, and wrote out the plots and details, I had slipped into a profound textual obscurantism. That mode is immediately apparent in the texts from 1970 onward, but in between were all the years of the affair and its prose outpourings.

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