Book Read! The Art of Fiction

David Lodge, The Art of Fiction (1992).

First sentence: “When does a novel begin?”

P. 99: “Intertextuality, in short, is entwined in the roots of the English novel, while at the other end of the chronological spectrum novelists have tended to exploit rather than resist it, freely recycling old myths and earlier work of literature to shape, or add resonance to, their presentation of contemporary life.”

Last sentence: “A novel is a Gestalt, a German word for which there is no exact English equivalent, defined in my dictionary as “a perceptual pattern or structure possessing qualities as a whle that cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts.”

It took me a while to read this book, because it contained that much information that I could only read a few chapters each time I took it up.  But it was worth it.

Lodge gives information about the ‘mechanisms’ that authors use to tell their stories.  Chapters are short (not more than 3-5 pages) and deal with, among others, ‘Suspense’, Point of View’, ‘Names’, ‘The Sense of Place’, ‘Lists’, ‘Repetition’, ‘Telling in Different Voices’, ‘Coincidence’, ‘The Telephone’, and so on (total of  chapters: 50).  Each chapter begins with an excerpt from a novel that illustrates the subject of the chapter.

Certainly, Lodge gives much information to keep in mind when reading, and I think I will have to re-read this book some times before I will be able to get the most out of it.

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