Archive for July 27th, 2009
"The old lady at the zoo didn’t believe in the giraffe; it wasn’t her idea of what the creature should be. And a good many people disagree with every definition of the novel…Nine-tenths of novels are defined to everyone’s satisfaction, and nine-tenths of novels answer our definition of a long story in prose about fictitious characters.
The trouble, therefore is with the giraffes, the monsters, novels which do not answer to the common expectation. This, however, is a real trouble because it is precisely in the neutral ground between definitions that original masterpieces are born. A writer who has something new to express is always likely to see a new form or expression…
T[The business of a critic is] not to make laws but to discover them – to explore the structure of each work by itself and show, if possible, where it succeeded, and why and where it failed; not to define from outside but to clarify from within…
Since we must have a definition of the novel, let it be the simplest possible, and let us be careful to pay no serious attention to it."
When David mentioned The Duel, for some reason I thought of a great, rather obscure movie I’d seen way back in the 70s, called The Duellists starring Harvey Keitel and Keith Carradine. Of note: the directorial debut of one Scott Ridley.
As it turns out, the film is based on a story by Joseph Conrad (read it here). Not sure if it, the film, stands up over time, but, again, back then, I thought it smashing.