Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I am Legend Pt 2 (Online Artifact)

      The online artifact I found that coincides with “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson is an archive created by John David Scoleri. Within this archive John Scoleri interviews several people, including himself, about the novel “I am Legend.” I find his interview to be very interesting and well thought out. One of the first things that Scoleri bring up is the opening sentence of the book. It goes, “On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when the sunset came, and sometimes they were in the street before he could get back.” Scoleri says that this caused him to be “immediately enthralled” and I agree. I think that this first sentence really sets the mood for the entire novel. I think that it shows the fear that Robert Neville had for these vampires. I believe that this may show an underlying message about how the author feels about this “other species.” I say other species because it may not be a vampire that the author may have a hatred against some other person or thing.
        John Scoleri has a list of four phrases that stood out to him in the novel. The first is, “The watch had stopped.” I remember exactly when this quote was used. I definitely think that this was another “mood setter” in the novel. Like the first quote I showed it shows Robert’s fear of the vampires. Another phrase that causes Scoleri’s “hairs on the back of his neck to stand up in anticipation” is “In a week the dog was dead.” I do think that this caused anticipation but more sadness. When Robert Neville found the dog and finally got him into the house he finally had a moment of hope that he would not be alone. I think that this has a deeper meaning. I personally think that this could relate to Robert’s mental state. At first he begins completely loosing himself, drinking until his was numb, but then he tried to regain control but as soon as he almost had all his control back he loses it again just like that. The last phrase that Scoleri uses is the last line of the novel which is just simply, “I am Legend.” I think by using this as the ending Richard Matheson is saying that Robert Neville accomplished what he was put on earth to do an also he did all that he could to fight against the evil.
      John Scoleri then goes on to talk about his overall thoughts about the novel. He says, “As I closed the book, following Neville’s realization and acceptance of his fate, the last line still lingering; I realized that I had experienced something amazing. I had been whisked away to a small house on Cimarron Street where I was one with Robert Neville; behind his boarded up windows I experienced his fears, his triumphs and his losses. Richard Matheson showed me just how captivating a book could be.” I completely agree with John’s statement here. The way Matheson used words to shape the setting and set the mood was amazing. He could play with people’s emotions through Robert. I think that the author really wanted the reader to feel involved. By showing the ups and downs in Robert’s life he is showing the ups and downs in everyone’s lives. By Ruth deceiving Robert and breaking his heart it related to all the hurt and lies that our world has. In this novel overall Matheson is really just trying to relate with people. He is trying to show that Robert Neville is just a person and when put into an unfortunate situation we can adapt and conquer all.
      On this same website there was an interview conducted via email with Richard Matheson himself. The first question that the archive asks is “Critics performing analysis of I Am Legend often say it is a metaphor for the spread of communism, especially since it was written during the height of the cold war; is there any validity to such claims, or are they merely reading things into the novel?” and Richard’s response was, “I don't think the book means anything more than it is: the story of a man trying to survive in a world of vampires. If people want to assume it later, that's up to them. It has been said that a writer is entitled to an interpretation of his work that people choose to give it.” I personally never saw the metaphor for communism until I read it here. I can see how the vampires can be thought of as the communists and the mutated vampires that appear near the end can be thought of as more rational communists. Or the people who just went along with it because they we supposed to or forced to.
      Another thing that Richard Matheson says that kind of adds to what I was talking about earlier is “I didn't realize until many years later that my "theme" was one man against insuperable odds. It's true though.” And this relates back to how I talked about how I thought that he was using the main character to show the struggles that people go through everyday. No matter how well off anyone is there will always be something that they cannot completely conquer that is insuperable. Richard Matheson then is asked whether he thinks that Robert Neville is a monster and his response is, “Neville was not a monster to me. He was trying to survive, no more. It was an irony that, in the end, he had become the legend, the feared one. I don't believe that the young woman who provided him with the poison regarded him as a monster, merely as a total anomaly in the new society.” I definitely think this is ironic. All the time that Robert spent preparing himself and his house to be “vampire-proof” when at the end the vampires are the ones who feared him. It was not really the original vampires that we afraid of Robert because they were not intelligent enough to know that he knew ways to kill them. But as the race mutated and became more aware of their surroundings they began to realize that they should fear him.
      All in all I thought that this novel was very interesting. While I was reading the novel I was sucked into the story and did not think of anything but what was going on. After I finished the novel I thought about similarities between Robert Neville’s life in the book and people’s lives today. Although today we are not being surrounded by vampires were being surrounded by other insuperable things like the recession. So although this novel was written back in 1952, Robert’s life can still be compared to our lives today in 2010.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Stephanie -

    Thanks for the mention of the archive, and for your very thoughtful analysis of my 'appreciation' of the book.

    As a self-proclaimed evangelist for the novel, it gives me great pleasure to see a reader of contemporary vampire fiction returning to the roots of the genre, and I hope your blog will encourage others to do the same.

    I think the other interesting thing for new readers to discover is how the current fascination with zombies (in fiction and film) can be traced directly back to I Am Legend. Had it not been for Matheson's book, we never would have had George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and without that, the entire sub genre of zombies as we know them today would not exist.

    I look forward to reading your further explorations of vampire fiction.