Ana Historic is written in a stream of consciousness narrative mode, which uses a flow of language that resembles thought, and often a lack of punctuation, to represent an interior thought process or point of view. Though most often associated with the modernist tradition through novels such as Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, stream of consciousness can take many forms, from representing what could be a singular monologue, to a more complex leap from mind to mind, history to history, as in Ana Historic.
This narrative mode not only offers a more personal, interior view of thoughts and feelings in process, but also a greater flexibility with perspective. Marlatt moves between research, to memory, to imagination and personal reflections within a span of only a few pages, offering a plurality of perspectives to a developing story of resurrection and self-awareness. In an interview with Sue Kossew, Marlatt remarks that she is
fascinated by the differences in language texture between personal, interior, domestic language and the public, declarative language of the press, which over time reflects larger changes in social consciousness (Kossew 56). These textures of consciousness overlap in Ana Historic, offering a site where the voices of three women can converge as one, while also offering a view of how their individuality is inextricably linked to feminist progress over the passage of time.
- How does Marlatt use sound and visual cues to guide the reader through thoughts in progress? How does this contribute to the intimacy of the stories, and the mutability between female characters?
- Consider the syntax of Marlatt’s narration starting from the first page. How do her short phrases, one word sentences, and repetition of words bring the reader into experiences that are not yet placed in a cohesive narrative? How do these streams of impressions contribute to the overarching narrative of three women working against a patriarchal narrative?
- Consider the recurring nature of separation or splitting that appears on page 11. How does this stream of thought break apart syntactically? How does Marlatt begin to separate the characters from one another in the narrative, while also linking their thoughts and subjectivities together?
- Consider the argument on page 22. Is this argument between Annie and her husband, or Annie and her mother? What does this ambiguity suggest about how history is reproduced in memory?
- How does Marlatt blur the voices of the three women? How do passages that could be any of the three women affect the narrative?
- Consider the discussion of female subjectivities on pages 34–35, particularly the rhetorical question
(is that you speaking or your mother or all the mothers?).How does a single voice become plural when Marlatt addresses female sexuality? What is the significance of mutable and multiple voices?
- Kossew, Sue.
History and Place: An Interview with Daphne Marlatt.Canadian Literature 178 (2003): 49–56. Print. (PDF)
- Marlatt, Daphne. Ana Historic. Toronto: Coach House, 1988. Print.