Grotesque Discoveries and Divisions in W.S. Merwin’s “The Folding Cliffs”
AbstractThe epic narrative poem “The Folding Cliffs” by W.S. Merwin reflects the idea of truth as a grotesque and divisive concept. Because “The Folding Cliffs” is based on historical accounts and oral tradition, it could be posited that it is a nonfiction work or at the very least “based on a true story”. This paper examines the concepts of truth and the grotesque and the innate relationship between the two. Establishing a definition of the grotesque, based on the ideas of Wolfgang Kayser, I identify four principles of the grotesque and use them as a lens for reading Merwin’s work. The concept that truth is distorted has become especially pertinent in light of the emergence of creative-nonfiction and the debate over what constitutes truth. Using Merwin’s piece as a vessel, I argue that truth is a fallacious concept, and that all so-called truths are fleeting and influenced by experiences and imagination.
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