The OF Blog: Estrangement

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Main Entry:
transitive verb
Inflected Form(s):
es·tranged; es·trang·ing
Middle English, from Anglo-French estrangir, estranger, from Medieval Latin extraneare, from Latin extraneus strange — more at strange
15th century
1 : to remove from customary environment or associations 2 : to arouse especially mutual enmity or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection, or friendliness : alienate
es·trange·ment \-mənt\ noun
es·trang·er noun
synonyms estrange, alienate, disaffect mean to cause one to break a bond of affection or loyalty. estrange implies the development of indifference or hostility with consequent separation or divorcement estranged wife>. alienate may or may not suggest separation but always implies loss of affection or interest alienate all his coworkers>. disaffect refers especially to those from whom loyalty is expected and stresses the effects (as rebellion or discontent) of alienation without actual separation disaffected by hunger>.
Funny how certain lines of thoughts converge, when when interests diverge. If there ever was an apt word for much of the speculative literature being written, "estrangement" and all of its daughter meanings would be near the head of the line. Same goes for how age and position separates one from another. Yet this sense of estrangement, of being un extraño en su propio país, doesn't seem to be a negative thing right now. Funny how perceptions of youth change when one is reminded daily that one's own youth is morphing into something else. Perhaps not quite maturity, but something along that road.

Some of the more interesting works of the speculative that I've read seem to capture that sense of "estrangement" quite well. But perhaps you see it differently? What do you think of estrangement and literature?


Hal Duncan said...

SF stands for strange fiction, far as I'm concerned; I think strangeness is completely central to our sense of genre. I've been blathering about this on the blog for the last year or so, actually, but the theory's a bit long to expound in a blog comment, so if yer interested pop over and check out the Scribblings links. Basically, my model is an extension of the ideas in Delany's 5750 Words essay, sourcing "strangeness" to shifts in subjunctivity level, but allowing for multiple conflicting levels in any one narrative.

Lsrry said...

I'll look at it later this weekend, Hal. I would, however, add that strangeness is perhaps not just central to a sense of genre, but also to a greater sense of human interactions with Self, the Other, and with the environs. I've always found works that incorporate a sound psychological approach to be all the more compelling because the "strangeness" is ever more on display.

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