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Hatchet man : an original novel Courchesne, Peter D.

Abstract

The plot of The Hatchet Man is derived from The Canterbury Tales. Each sub-section of the novel is intended to parallel Chaucer's narrative in detail and in theme. It is intended that much of the effect of the novel be dependent on the comparison that is invited with the content of Chaucer's Tales. Chaucer's integrating framework, the journey of the pilgrims to the shrine of Saint Thomas in Canterbury, is the source of a further parallel. The characters in The Hatchet Man travel to the shrine of abstract truth, institutionalized as the university. But, as with Chaucer, the stories themselves are the theme, not the pilgrimage. The particular provides the meaning; the general, the rationale. The attempt has been not so much to fragment the continuity of plot and style, but to avoid conglomerating it. The abstract depends on the particular in a more significant way than it could for the Christian Chaucer. The novel can end in "affirmations" rather than "retractions." Hugh Simon and his friends, unlike Chaucer's figures, do arrive at the shrine and find that the meaning of the particular overwhelms the abstract, that their Saviour hatchets the generalized whole and imparts to it the virtue of independent existence, a meaning derived from its own entity, not its interpretive value.

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