Friday, 20 April 2007

Questions, Answers 2

I feel that the trouble with ‘high-art’ literature is that it can easily become too much about symbolism, metaphor, repetition etc and not enough about reaching the reader’s heart.

There are plenty of wankers out there producing symbolism and whatnot that DOESN'T matter, and there are many great GREAT stories that don't rely on symbols, metaphor, lyricism etc

(The Ledge is 99% "straight" is it not?)

Yes, I’ve a copy of Ulysses. No, I’ve not finished it (like so many others).

Ok, you say, what if it touches your soul AND has great symbolism? It then HAS to be a better piece of fiction. I’d agree with that.

Never ignore "taste". I can appreciate that Joyce wrote well, extremely intelligently, but maybe, MAYBE, what he wrote about doesn't grab me enough?

Ignore "symbolism" (as in don't get hung up about it). Great stories can be written "straight" without high language, without metaphor, without complex literary allusions (try Raymond Carver's "A Small Good Thing" or "Cathedral" as two examples.

I (personally) don't care for "placed" symbolism, but if I read a romance and the protagonist's job is a wonderful analogy for what's not working in his life I get (a) a good romantic story (b) a good insight into an unusual job (c) an aesthetic pleasure from realizing that the two reflect each other.
The reflection/parallelism isn't NECESSARY but when it's there, seemingly unforced, it can greatly increase resonance and weight.


Marzipan said...


Thanks for such detailed answers.

I'm going to take a look at Francine Prose's book and I'm going to think about what you've said.


The Boot Camp Diaries said...

Marz, I tend not to" construct" or edit my craft discussions/replies preferring spmtaneity

(PS I'm pissed, evening out)

also, I believthe se things require tens, hundreds of interactions to get to the truth.

I don't believe in a perfect, textbook reply