When I initially perused the title of British author Ian McEwan’s concise tale, “My Lavender-Scented Manuscript,” I envisioned a poignant tale of amour. Nevertheless, subsequent to immersing myself in the narrative and mulling over it at length, I abruptly comprehended that this is a narrative steeped in transgression, replete with absurdities and paradoxes, culminating in a profound denouement that elicits poignant sighs.
The central character of this opus, Parker, assumes the role of a novelist. In the opening pages, Parker cryptically recounts his own misdeeds in the first-person narrative: “You must have heard of my comrade, the once-renowned wordsmith Jocelyn Tabit, yet I surmise his reminiscences are waning day by day. Time, at times, savages even the most illustrious. When you reflect upon him, you may vaguely recollect a scandal and a discredited disgrace. As for myself, I was merely an anonymous author, Parker Sparrow, until my name became publicly entwined with his.”
Parker obliquely intimates to the readers that he and Jocelyn were both authors and intimate confidants, albeit not as renowned as Jocelyn prior to the scandal. In comparison to “the moment,” Parker seemed enshrouded in “obscurity” for a time. However, Jocelyn’s notoriety was tarnished due to a scandal, and Parker, in association with Jocelyn, also became a subject of public scrutiny. “In the eyes of those privy to the inner workings, our names had inextricably melded together, akin to the opposing ends of a seesaw. As he ascended, I coincidentally descended—albeit unjustly. Subsequently, he plummeted into decline, while I attained worldly success.”
Parker juxtaposed the disparate life circumstances of himself and Jocelyn at the opposing extremities of the seesaw, endeavoring to prompt readers to ponder the seesaw’s oscillation of “your ascent and my descent,” in alignment with the vicissitudes of fate. While adhering to the vicissitudes of life, he deliberately withheld the intricacies and rationales behind this scandal. Paradoxically, Parker appended: “I do not repudiate the presence of malevolent deeds within this account. I pilfered a fragment of my existence and harbor no intention to restore it to its rightful owner. You may regard these pages as my confession.”
Since it assumes the guise of a “confession,” it signifies that Parker acknowledges the “malevolent deeds” he perpetrated. Yet, having admitted to his transgressions, why does he brazenly exhibit an aversion to assuming responsibility? What is he evading? In order to fathom the intricacies of this tale and expose its conspiratorial underpinnings, one must faithfully navigate the “game” meticulously laid out by the author, rediscovering the genesis, evolution, and unfurling of the narrative… Subsequently, the narrative takes a retrospective turn, flashing back four decades, as Parker meticulously elucidates how he and Jocelyn forged an “indissoluble” friendship during their collegiate days. Both attended the same university, pursued identical fields of study, and harbored an identical aspiration—to “attain authorial eminence.” Following graduation, Parker wedded and started a family. Although he published a few novels, they were met with tepid reception, while Jocelyn’s initial literary work achieved resounding success. “His name bestowed upon him an aura of its own. The public yearned to witness the inaugural cry of a nascent voice, and Jocelyn Tabit sang with a far sweeter and more poignant melody than I.”
From that point onward, Jocelyn perpetually occupied the commanding heights of the seesaw in his literary career. He resided with his second wife, Julia, in a resplendent Victorian manor in Hampstead, whereas the Parker family dwelled in rented accommodations in Brixton. As their brood expanded to include four children, they relocated multiple times, eventually settling in Durham. Parker would occasionally spend weekends at Jocelyn’s abode, akin to a respite. “Within the capacious library, an array of newly published hardcover volumes adorned the coffee table, a sprawling expanse of polished oak flooring extended, the home showcased a collection of art, rugs, and a grand piano…” A stark contrast to my cramped and disordered dwelling. This serene, delightful, and shimmering ambiance invariably evoked envy within Parker. Perhaps it was during this juncture that the notion of swapping lives with Jocelyn germinated within his heart.
Yet, the true impetus for the “Seed of Evil” to take root was their shared pursuit of literary creation. Parker had the distinction of publishing a novel titled “Her Refusal to Dance,” which garnered minimal attention. Three years hence, Jocelyn publishedhis magnum opus, “The Seesaw of Fate,” a critically acclaimed masterpiece that catapulted him to literary stardom. While Parker acknowledged the brilliance of Jocelyn’s work, a seed of envy and resentment took root in his heart. He began to perceive Jocelyn’s success as undeserved and his own talent as overlooked.
In a moment of weakness and desperation, Parker hatched a devious plan. He decided to plagiarize Jocelyn’s unpublished manuscript, a lavender-scented tome that had garnered significant interest from publishers. Parker’s intention was to swap his lackluster manuscript with Jocelyn’s masterpiece, tricking the literary world into believing that he was the true genius behind “The Seesaw of Fate.”
The plan unfolded with meticulous precision. Parker managed to gain access to Jocelyn’s manuscript and replaced it with his own work. He then submitted the stolen manuscript under his own name, eagerly awaiting the accolades and adulation that would undoubtedly follow.
To his surprise, the lavender-scented manuscript was met with resounding success. Critics hailed it as a groundbreaking work of literature, and readers devoured its pages with fervor. Parker’s name was suddenly on everyone’s lips, and he basked in the newfound glory and recognition.
However, the stolen success came at a great cost. Parker’s guilt and remorse gnawed at his conscience, and he found himself unable to enjoy the fruits of his ill-gotten triumph. The weight of his deception became unbearable, and he spiraled into a state of perpetual anxiety and paranoia.
Meanwhile, Jocelyn’s career took an abrupt nosedive. His genuine manuscript, now in Parker’s possession, was dismissed by publishers as mediocre and lacking the brilliance of his previous work. Jocelyn’s reputation crumbled, and he became a shadow of his former self, haunted by the loss of his masterpiece.
The narrative then circles back to the present, where Parker finds himself reflecting on the consequences of his actions. He confesses his misdeeds to the readers, acknowledging the price he paid for his ambition and the irreversible damage he inflicted upon Jocelyn’s career.
“My Lavender-Scented Manuscript” is a tale of moral ambiguity, exploring the depths of human nature and the destructive power of envy. It delves into the complexities of artistic ambition and the lengths some individuals are willing to go to achieve recognition and success. Ultimately, it serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of integrity and the devastating consequences that can arise from deceit and betrayal.
Parker hastened to expand on the story. He replaced characters, past events, and living environment one by one, and marked the time when he took notes as two years ago. In the days that followed, Parker made a “big breakthrough” in his writing, and he plagiarized non-stop throughout the summer. As soon as you finish the first draft, burn the photocopied copy. After that, he found a self-publishing publisher and quickly published “She Refuses to Dance” and immediately sent a copy to Jocelyn. According to his judgment, Jocelyn would not open the book. Sure enough, this advance act of donating books paved the way for Jocelyn’s inability to clarify the truth in the future. Parker spent more than two years distributing nearly four hundred copies of “She Refuses to Dance” through gifts, charity sales, etc. Finally, as expected, the third year after She Refuses to Dance, Jocelyn published The Riot.
”The Riot” was obviously a huge success, and “the media lined up like birds and sang sweet carols in unison, overjoyed.” Parker stood still, hoping that the foreshadowing he had laid would be ready to go. However, the storm he carefully designed never came. If the matter could be stopped here, there might be variables in the final result, but Parker was unwilling to let it go. He did nothing but continued to add fuel to the fire: intending to report. He sent “She Refuses to Dance” to a mean-spirited, gossip-loving critic of the London Evening Standard, and enclosed an unsigned machine-typed note, “Does this remind you of the scandal that caused a stir last month?” novel”? Next, the literary plagiarism case that shocked the entire British literary world flew into the sky without any suspense.
Parker went to great lengths to deceive all media and readers, and also deceived Jocelyn. By stealing Jocelyn’s unpublished manuscript and publishing it early, he falsely accused Jocelyn of plagiarizing his own work, triggering a plagiarism case that shocked the literary world, which completely plunged Jocelyn into a trough and made him miserable. Although Jocelyn did not plagiarize, he could not prove his innocence in the face of all the evidence and could only bow his head and accept his fate. This literary plagiarism case brought a fatal blow to Jocelyn’s creation and life. Not only did he become infamous and could no longer continue his novel creation, he even became embarrassed in life. He sold the house and moved to Brixton, where he made ends meet by teaching creative writing at a local night school, which happened to be Parker’s old turf.
Although Jocelyn was puzzled, she never doubted her friend Parker. Time flies, time flies. Time seems to have diluted the painful past, but even so, when Jocelyn’s memory is about to fade, she is still eager to find a suitable reason to explain this weird old anecdote-this disaster: “We Our lives, he said, are always intertwined. We have discussed everything a thousand times. We have read the same books, experienced and shared so many things, so our ideas and our imaginations are shaped in a strange way. We were cast together in such a way that, in the end, more or less, we wrote the same novel.”
This far-fetched reason is so ridiculous that it makes you laugh, but after all, it can be regarded as comforting to Jocelyn herself. Live the rest of your life in peace. On the one hand, it can be seen that Jocelyn is loyal and conscientious, and cherishes her friendship with Parker from beginning to end; on the other hand, we mourn her misfortune and are angry with him. We can only sigh: Poor people must be hateful.
On the other hand, Parker’s overnight fame and sudden wealth did not rely on his own talent or hard work, but shamelessly relied on plagiarism, stealing the life that should have belonged to Jocelyn. The unfortunate Jocelyn was put on the moral tribunal and suffered verbal and written criticism and “thousands of accusations.” However, Parker entered the room openly and seized the moral high ground of gaining sympathy. For Jocelyn, who was caught in the whirlpool of public opinion, he not only did not come forward to clarify or provide help, but instead added fuel to the fire and added insult to injury. In the form of accepting exclusive interviews with magazine media, he subtly confirmed Jocelyn’s stigma of “plagiarism” from him. While he was feasting on the fruits of plagiarism, not only did he not show any remorse or regret, he also expressed his understanding of Jocelyn with a sanctimonious and gentlemanly face. His hypocritical and cunning face was really jaw-dropping. . Not only that, the long-term disguise even made him really think that he was the “victim” of the literary plagiarism case that year. He seemed to be bearing the humiliation, unwilling to accuse his old friends, and only wanted to devote himself to his art career. The most ridiculous thing in the world. The innocent victim was reduced to a disgraced thief. The thief who stole fame and profit not only escaped justice, but also became a “saint” sought after by everyone. It is impossible not to be shaken by the absurdity and chaos of the literary ecological circle. Glasses. Parker is enjoying his stolen life calmly and contentedly. Regarding Jocelyn, who is innocent and has no fault in the first place, he said this: “Now there is no problem between the two of us. We are still very close. I have completely forgiven him. .” After reading this, I really feel that the author has really used the skill of irony to the extreme.
The novel ends with Parker and Jocelyn toasting to celebrate their long-lasting and unbreakable friendship in the big house Parker bought. “We are a family. Let’s raise our glasses. Cheers!” With a crisp crash, The truth about this plagiarism case was sealed forever by Parker. Parker chose to “make a mistake and make a mistake”, or “steal if you steal”. After all, admitting “evil deeds” and distinguishing right from wrong are two different things. As for the life he had stolen, he had “no intention of returning it to its original owner.” It will never be possible to clarify the facts and restore Jocelyn’s reputation. The most it can do is make a gesture with a revealing testimony. After all, who in this world is willing to build a successful life in the secular sense for friendship?