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Nothing Childish about pushing One’s Creative Curve


Following on Steve Mitchelmore’s negation of Ursula Le Guin’s contention that the Modernists declared fantastic narrative to be intrinsically childish, I was unable, with Steve, to find anything supporting Le Guin’s claim. What I did find however was this quote from Ezra Pound’s Literary Essays, on Henry James’ ‘Fantasias’: 

"All artists who discover anything make such detours and must, in the course of things (as in the cobwebs), push certain experiments beyond the right curve of their art. This is not so much the doom as the fuction of all ‘revolutionary’ or experimental art, and I think masterwork is usually the result of the return from such excess. One does not know, simply doesn not know, the true curve until one has pushed one’s method beyond it. Until then it is merely a frontier, not a chosen route. It is an open question, and there is no dogmatic answer, whether an artist shoudl write and rewrite the same story (a la Flaubert) or whether he should take a new canvas."

I suspect Dan Green would approve. 

James submitted some of his fantasias to The Yellow Book.

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3 Responses to “Nothing Childish about pushing One’s Creative Curve”

  1. Arthur Durkee Says:

    I side with LeGuin on this one. Mainstream (adult) fiction still tends to look down its nose at "genre" (non-adult) fiction, even when there are much better writers in genre fiction than in the mainstream. A certain snobbishness.

  2. steve Says:

    Arthur, you can’t be siding with Le Guin because she doesn’t say that in the review to which both Nigel’s blog and mine refer. She’s claiming that the Modernists "declared fantastic narrative to be intrinsically childish". Like you, she offers no specific evidence for her claims. I think this lack signifies a canard so old that people assume it to be true and can thus use it without reproach. The "certain snobbishness", I suspect, is an internal projection of self-hatred.  As I point out, fantastic narrative is not alien to Modernist literature.

  3. Pages tagged "childish" Says:

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