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Posts Tagged ‘Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett’

“point of view” in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

·     omniscient narrator, able to show the inner feelings of all the characters   ·     at least once the narrator speaks in his own voice … (beginning of Ch 3) … “Faber … Godliman … two-thirds of a triangle that one day would be crucially completed by … David and Lucy” … the narrator thus provides a foreshadowing, setting the stage and piquing the reader’s interest.

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“pace” in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

·     Follett’s purposeful ping-pong structure alternating between the characters forced him to slow down to show (in his words) “how the protagonists were reacting to each other’s moves,” and to include more enriched attention to “character, landscape and emotion.”

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* historical fiction … in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

  • Follett starts with a one page historical preface about the D-Day deception. He ends the preface … “That much is history. What follows is fiction. Still and all, one suspects something like this must have happened.”
  • the high stakes of blowing the deception plan are emphasized several times … Godliman: “If one decent Abwehr agent in Britain gets to know about Fortitude … we could lose the fucking war.”
  •  But of course we know that D Day was successful and we didn’t lose the war.
  • Follett creates tension about an event where we know the actual outcome, ie that Faber cannot succeed.
  •  Much like Forsythe in Day of the Jackal (published in the early 1970s, before Eye of the Needle), where we know that De Gaulle was not murdered by a sniper but are carried into great tension anyway.
  •  Perhaps the tension is maintained because we don’t know if Faber will fail, or if he will succeed but Hitler doesn’t act on his knowledge. However, we are told repeatedly, by Hitler himself, that he will be guided by Faber’s report.

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“character” in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

·     Faber is of course the villain. But he is also patriotic, enormously competent, and capable of feelings, which he must repress in order to carry out his mission. He is an wonderful lover, which he could not be if he were truly without feeling, no matter how much he will not allow himself to express it. This complex character must be admired even as we hate and fear him. A remarkable achievement.   ·     Lucy starts out as a dominated young woman, who chooses to escape to her father-in-law’s island rather than live among people. But in her relative solitude, she develops an unexpected resolve, and when facing the ultimate challenge, she rises to it. Is what she does believable? Maybe not, although in wartime people do extraordinary things. In any case, Follett portrays this larger-than-life character in a way that arouses the reader’s emotions as we root for her to succeed against overwhelming odds. The final scenes and epilogue drew tears from this romantic reader, always a sucker for melodrama.   ·     Godliman (what a name! I’d like to know where Follett found it) is the enabler of the story, providing the narrative links that eventually lead Faber to Lucy. But how much better to provide these through an interesting character than through narrative prose. Godliman’s growth from nebbish professor to razor-sharp spycatcher is done a little quickly. We can believe it, but we would like to know more about him. Perhaps as #3 character, he doesn’t warrant more attention.

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“beginnings” in Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2007

·     Follett starts with a one page historical preface about the D-Day deception. He ends the preface … “That much is history. What follows is fiction. Still and all, one suspects something like this must have happened.”   ·     the first chapter begins with Faber. The first clue to his identity as a spy is … “Faber watched such things – he was considerably more observant than the average railway clerk.”   ·     in the first chapter, Faber kills his landlady, packs his transmitter, and moves on. We now know he is a German spy. The next chapter jumps to Godliman recruited to be a spycatcher.

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