The Betrayal of Language

January 19, 2023 § Leave a comment

Selin is often left having to explain herself throughout much of the The Idiot—especially to Ivan, who seems to enjoy breaking apart her sentences, willfully misinterpreting her for kicks. Then, in the natural way of young adult exploration, she overexplains to the point of sounding ludicrous. “I like words,” she tells a professor who’s interviewing her because she’s trying to get into a seminar. “They don’t bore me at all.”

At the Ploughshares blog, I wrote about Elif Batuman’s 2017 novel The Idiot, and the ways in which the novel reveals the capacity for language to betray us. I had a lot of fun writing this one.


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