Realism Novel Quotes

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Life is painful and disappointing. It is useless, therefore, to write new realistic novels. We generally know where we stand in relation to reality and don’t care to know any more.
Michel Houellebecq (H.P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life)
Can you not see, […] that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its nature essentially incredible? Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is-what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is-what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
G.K. Chesterton
I remember a period in late adolescence when my mind would make itself drunk with images of adventurousness. This is how it will be when I grow up. I shall go there, do this, discover that, love her, and then her and her and her. I shall live as people in novels live and have lived. Which ones I was not sure, only that passion and danger, ecstasy and despair (but then more ecstasy) would be in attendance. However...who said that thing about "the littleness of life that art exaggerates"? There was a moment in my late twenties when I admitted that my adventurousness had long since petered out. I would never do those things adolescence had dreamt about. Instead, I mowed my lawn, I took holidays, I had my life. But time...how time first grounds us and then confounds us. We thought we were being mature when we were only being safe. We imagined we were being responsible but we were only being cowardly. What we called realism turned out to be a way of avoiding things rather than facing them. Time...give us enough time and our best-supported decisions will seem wobbly, our certainties whimsical.
Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending)
When I work, I'm just translating the world around me in what seems to be straightforward terms. For my readers, this is sometimes a vision that's not familiar. But I'm not trying to manipulate reality. This is just what I see and hear.
Don DeLillo
I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children's books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
A Dickens character to me is a theatrical projection of a character. Not that it isn't real. It's real, but in that removed sense. But Sherlock Holmes is simply there. I would be astonished if I went to 221 1/2 B Baker Street and didn't find him." [An Invitation to Learning, January 1942]
Rex Stout
La vie ressemble plus souvent à un roman qu'un roman ne ressemble à la vie." ("Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.")
George Sand (Metella)
Those novels with old-fashioned heroes and heroines in them -- are ruinous!
William Dean Howells (The Rise of Silas Lapham)
It would have been impossible for me to have told anyone what I derived from these novels, for it was nothing less than than a sense of life itself. All my life had shaped me for the realism, the maturalism of the modern novel, and I could not read enough of them.
Richard Wright (Black Boy)
The form of the Gothic novel also implicitly contested the claims of Realism to reflect the world directly by showing how artificial its structure was.
Michael Richardson (Dedalus Book of Surrealism 2: The Myth of the World)
The best of fiction, as we know, of course, doesn't tell the truth; it tales the truth.
Criss Jami (Healology)
The one thing is fiction in a novel and the other thing is reality. With fiction you don't make a fuss - you can 'beat it' and there's never enough. At least in my opinion - cause there are people, who complain about style intensity in literature: they prefer cereals with milk than abyssinian bitches roasted alive on bringhausers and watered with ya-yoo juice.
Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz
The flimsy little protestations that mark the front gate of every novel, the solemn statements that any resemblance to real persons living or dead is entirely coincidental, are fraudulent every time. A writer has no other material to make his people from than the people of his experience ... The only thing the writer can do is to recombine parts, suppress some characterisitics and emphasize others, put two or three people into one fictional character, and pray the real-life prototypes won't sue.
Wallace Stegner (On Teaching and Writing Fiction)
It seems to me that you might create any sort of character in a novel and there would be at least one person in the world just like him. We humans are simply incapable of imagining non-human actions or behavior. It's the writer's fault if we don't believe in his characters as human beings.
Natsume Sōseki (Sanshirō)
In the language of the day it is customary to describe a certain sort of book as “escapist” literature. As I understand it, the adjective implies, a little condescendingly, that the life therein depicted cannot be identified with the real life which the critic knows so well in W.C.1: and may even have the disastrous effect on the reader of taking him happily for a few hours out of his own real life in N.W.8. Why this should be a matter for regret I do not know; nor why realism in a novel is so much admired when realism in a picture is condemned as mere photography; nor, I might add, why drink and fornication should seem to bring the realist closer to real life than, say, golf and gardening.
A.A. Milne
The trees are bedecked with snow, the air is perfumed; how sweet, how dark the sultry fragrance. Forever hypnotising, always haunting. I want to inhale the fragrance of your skin, drink from your open mouth.
Suzy Davies (Johari's Window)
I lack the disposition for realism. . . . as soon as I have managed to put together a suitable number of realistic people and placed them in reasonably realistic surroundings where they can live realistic lives, they start to fiddle about, they behave as if they had never before been in contact with real life, but had only lived in a fantasy world. They commit frightful crimes, they die and are resurrected, they ascend to heaven and allow themselves to be misled into all the foolishness the language happens to lead them to, till at last, with oaths and curses, they escape from the planned novel.
Torgny Lindgren
If I were writing a novel I would end it here: a novel, I used to think, has to end somewhere, but I'm beginning to believe my realism has been at fault all these years, for nothing in life now ever seems to end. Chemists tell you matter is never completely destroyed, and mathematicians tell you that if you halve each pace in crossing a room, you will never reach the opposite wall, so what an optimist I would be if I thought that this story ended here.
Graham Greene (The End of the Affair)
Literature...describes a descent. First, gods. Then demigods. Then epic became tragedy: failed kings, failed heroes. Then the gentry. Then the middle class and its mercantile dreams. Then it was about you--Gina, Gilda: social realism. Then it was about them: lowlife. Villains. The ironic age...Literature, for a while, can be about us...:about writers. But that won't last long. How do we burst clear of all this? And he asked them: Whither the novel? ... Supposing...that the progress of literature (downward) was forced in that direction by the progress of cosmology (upward--up, up). For human beings, the history of cosmology is the history of increasing humiliation. Always hysterically but less and less fiercely resisted, as one illusion after another fell away.
Martin Amis (The Information)
Science Fiction properly conceived, like all serious fiction, however funny, is a way of trying to describe what is going on, what people actually do and feel, how people relate to everything else in this vast sack, this belly of the universe, this womb of things to be and tomb of things that were, this unending story. In it, as in all fiction, there is room enough to keep even Man where he belongs, in his place in the scheme of things, there is time enough to gather plenty of wild oats and sow them, too, and sing to little Oom, and listen to Ool's joke, and watch newts, and still the story isn't over. Still there are seeds to be gathered and room in the bag of stars.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Realism is for lazy-minded, semi-educated people whose atrophied imagination allows them to appreciate only the most limited and convention subject matter. Re-Fi is a repetitive genre written by unimaginative hacks who rely on mere mimesis. If they had any self-respect they'd be writing memoir, but they're too lazy to fact-check. Of course I never read Re-Fi. But the kids keep bringing home these garish realistic novels and talking about them, so I know that it's an incredibly narrow genre, completely centered on one species, full of worn-out cliches and predictable situations--the quest for the father, mother-bashing, obsessive male lust, dysfunctional suburban families, etc., etc. All it's good for is being made into mass-market movies. Given its old-fashioned means and limited subject matter, realism is quite incapable of describing the complexity of contemporary experience.
Ursula K. Le Guin (Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016, with A Journal of a Writer's Week)
Since all these novelists [the realists] happened to be men, the present writer, proposing at this moment to write a novel and looking round for a contemporary pattern, was faced with the choice between following one of her regiments and attempting to produce a feminine equivalent of the current masculine realism.
Dorothy M. Richardson
Half asleep, he wondered whether that might not have been his happiest day ever, the last, perfect day swelling with the immensity of his secret intent, secret creation—the day before everything changed—the day before he realized, for the first time, yet with absolute finality, just how small his private immensity really was when measured against that other vast, dark, impersonal immensity, call it God, or history, or simply life.
Olga Grushin (The Line)
A Face on the Flag is a tribute to veterans and the friendships they carry through life. Vets young and old will find someone they know in A Face on the Flag.
Kevin Horgan (A Face on the Flag)
In spite of being a marketing guy for over 40 years, I never realised how challenging it would be to gain global traction for the Irish romantic fantasy novel, Dolphin Song. It's succeeding, but the workload has been terrific.
Tom Richards (Dolphin Song)
One such individual was Amos Tutuola, who was a talented writer. His most famous novels, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, published in 1946, and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, in 1954, explore Yoruba traditions and folklore. He received a great deal of criticism from Nigerian literary critics for his use of “broken or Pidgin English.” Luckily for all of us, Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet and writer, was enthralled by Tutuola’s “bewitching literary prose” and wrote glowing reviews that helped Tutuola’s work attain international acclaim. I still believe that Tutuola’s critics in Nigeria missed the point. The beauty of his tales was fantastical expression of a form of an indigenous Yoruba, therefore African, magical realism. It is important to note that his books came out several decades before the brilliant Gabriel García Márquez published his own masterpieces of Latin American literature, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude.
Chinua Achebe (There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra)
Extremely self-conscious in its craft, in many ways The Hand of Ethelberta is an exploration of fiction as illusion, which involves parody of the conventions it employs; romance, melodrama and farce, and a rejection of realism for absurdist and surrealistic effects. The ‘hand’ of Ethelberta is an obvious, ironic allusion to courtship, and the sub-title, ‘A Comedy in Chapters’, suggests the novel’s affinity with the conventions of Restoration and eighteenth-century comedy of manners.
Geoffrey Harvey (Thomas Hardy)
Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is—what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is—what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
G.K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)
How about I tell you what I don't like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn't be - basically gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful - nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mashups a la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and cross breeding rarely results in anything satisfying... I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred and fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and - I imagine this goes without saying - vampires.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
The degree of rigidity is a matter of profound interest in the study of literary fictions. As an extreme case you will find some novel, probably contemporary with yourself, in which the departure from a basic paradigm, the peripeteia in the sense I am now giving it, seems to begin with the first sentence. The schematic expectations of the reader are discouraged immediately. Since by definition one seeks the maximum peripeteia (in this extended sense) in the fiction of one's own time, the best instance I can give is from Alain Robbe-Grillet. He refuses to speak of his 'theory' of the novel; it is the old ones who talk about the need for plot, character, and so forth, who have the theories. And without them one can achieve a new realism, and a narrative in which 'le temps se trouve coupé de la temporalité. Il ne coule plus.' And so we have a novel in which,. the reader will find none of the gratification to be had from sham temporality, sham causality, falsely certain description, clear story. The new novel 'repeats itself, bisects itself, modifies itself, contradicts itself, without even accumulating enough bulk to constitute a past--and thus a "story," in the traditional sense of the word.' The reader is not offered easy satisfactions, but a challenge to creative co-operation.
Frank Kermode (The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction)
Literature is the extant body of written art. All novels belong to it. The value judgement concealed in distinguishing one novel as literature and another as genre vanishes with the distinction. Every readable novel can give true pleasure. Every novel read by choice is read because it gives true pleasure. Literature consists of many genres, including mystery, science fiction, fantasy, naturalism, realism, magical realism, graphic, erotic, experimental, psychological, social, political, historical, bildungsroman, romance, western, army life, young adult, thriller, etc., etc…. and the proliferating cross-species and subgenres such as erotic Regency, noir police procedural, or historical thriller with zombies. Some of these categories are descriptive, some are maintained largely as marketing devices. Some are old, some new, some ephemeral. Genres exist, forms and types and kinds of fiction exist and need to be understood: but no genre is inherently, categorically superior or inferior. (Hypothesis on Literature vs. Genre)
Ursula K. Le Guin
But because I do not wish to be remembered (if I will be remembered) as a self-indulgent fantasist, I'll skip the purple patch for now, however much I wish to write it. I need to make amends for my indifference, for having turned my back on the world in favor of the beauties of the way. I'll try to study cruelty (I regret my own) and render it in more familiar terms.
Norman Lock (The Boy in His Winter: An American Novel)
The novel's trick involved re-telling a classic Faery story —young women abducted into another world— using the conventions of realism. One of these conventions was giving the event a precise date. According to the novel, the three women disappeared on February 14th 1900... But Picnic at Hanging Rock is not set in our 1900, in which February 14th fell on a Wednesday, not a Saturday.
Mark Fisher (The Weird and the Eerie)
To be really realistic a description would have to be endless. Where Stendhal describes in one phrase Lucien Leuwen's entrance into a room, the realistic artist ought, logically, to fill several volumes with descriptions of characters and settings, still without succeeding in exhausting every detail. Realism is indefinite enumeration. By this it reveals that its real ambition is conquest, not of the unity, but of the totality of the real world. Now we understand why it should be the official aesthetic of a totalitarian revolution. But the impossibility of such an aesthetic has already been demonstrated. Realistic novels select their material, despite themselves, from reality, because the choice and the conquest of reality are absolute conditions of thought and expression. To write is already to choose. There is thus an arbitrary aspect to reality, just as there is an arbitrary aspect to the ideal, which makes a realistic novel an implicit problem novel. To reduce the unity of the world of fiction to the totality of reality can only be done by means of an a priori judgment which eliminates form, reality, and everything that conflicts with doctrine. Therefore so-called socialist realism is condemned by the very logic of its nihilism to accumulate the advantages of the edifying novel and propaganda literature.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
All these novels in which the authors try desperately to dramatize their own histories, their experiences, to recount their own psychological dramas - this is not literature. It is secretion, just like bile, sweat or tears - and, sometimes even, excretion. It is the literary transcription of 'reality television'. It is all the product of a vulgar unconscious not unlike a small intestine, around which roam the phantasms and affects of those who, now they've been persuaded they have an inner life, don't know what to do with it.
Jean Baudrillard (Cool Memories V: 2000 - 2004)
A publisher sent him a galley of a novel by a writer he had barely heard of, one that impressed him deeply and seemed to embody all the literary qualities he had called for in his "fictional Futures" essay. The book was Franzen's The Twenty-Seventh City. Set in St. Louis, it mixed postmodernism and traditional storytelling and showed a familiarity its chosen city that Wallace could only marvel it. it decanted a Pynchonesque conspiracy in media-mediated language; it was about word AND the world, realism for an era when there was no real.
D.T. Max (Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace)
Kundera was also a postmodernist writer, but he completely lacked this embracing of other worlds, with him the world was always the same, it was Prague and Czechoslovakia and the Soviets who had either invaded or were on the point of doing so, and that was fine, but he kept withdrawing his characters from the plot, intervening and going on about something or other while the characters stood still, waiting as it were, by the window or wherever it was they happened to be until he had finished his explanation and they could move forward. Then you saw that the plot was only ‘a plot’ and that the characters were only ‘characters’, something he had invented, you knew they didn’t exist, and so why should you read about them? Kundera’s polar opposite was Hamsun, no one went as far into his characters’ world as he did, and that was what I preferred, at least in a comparison of these two, the physicality and the realism of Hunger, for example. There the world had weight, there even the thoughts were captured, while with Kundera the thoughts elevated themselves above the world and did as they liked with it. Another difference I had noticed was that European novels often had only one plot, everything followed one track as it were, while South American novels had a multiplicity of tracks and sidetracks, indeed, compared with European novels, they almost exploded with plots. One of my favourites was A Hundred Years of Solitude by García Márquez, but I also loved Love in the Time of Cholera. Kjærstad had a little of the same, but in a European way, and there was also something of Kundera in him. That was my opinion anyway.
Karl Ove Knausgård (Min kamp 4 (Min kamp #4))
Jasmine shook her head. She had forgotten about the tales of the Jinn that her father warned her about. Now, being here the memories were returning like a slow and purposeful spider. With its long, black legs the nightmares would creep into her mind each time she closed her eyes. Then, she would see through the creature’s murky eyes. She would see the carcass of a deer as it lay in the glistening white. She would watch the hyena tearing at its sweated flesh, blood seeping into the snow forming warm pools of death around her feet. And in that moment, the deer shifted. It shifted into the shape of a young boy.
Shereen Malherbe (Jasmine Falling)
t this point I would like to return to the question of the plot movement and the different narrative levels of the book. David Lodge raises a crucial issue when he asks 'how Charlotte Brontë created a literary structure in which the domestic and the mythical, the realistic world of social behaviour and the romantic world of passionate self-consciousness, could co-exist with only occasional lapses into incongruity.' As far as the plot and setting go, however, this states the question rather misleadingly, for in fact at Thornfield there begins a progressive plot movement from realism to fantasy. By 'realism' I do not mean the predominance of the every day and commonplace, or an authorial objectivity of treatment, but simply the use of material that the reader can accept as existing in the ordinary world as well, or of events of a kind that might happen in it without being viewed as extraordinary. That is, things that have a face-value currency of meaning prior to any concealed meaning they may hold or suggest. Thus while Gateshead and Lowood School fit neatly into, and contribute importantly to, the symbolic pattern of the book, they are perfectly believable places in their own right. Even the heavy-handed and obvious satire of Mr Brocklehurst and his family does not invalidate him as a credible conception. But with the beginning of the mystery of the Thornfield attic the plot starts moving away from this facevalue actuality.
Ian Gregor (Reading The Victorian Novel: Detail Into Form)
The dominant literary mode of the twentieth century has been the fantastic. This may appear a surprising claim, which would not have seemed even remotely conceivable at the start of the century and which is bound to encounter fierce resistance even now. However, when the time comes to look back at the century, it seems very likely that future literary historians, detached from the squabbles of our present, will see as its most representative and distinctive works books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and also George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies and The Inheritors, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot-49 and Gravity’s Rainbow. The list could readily be extended, back to the late nineteenth century with H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr Moreau and The War of the Worlds, and up to writers currently active like Stephen R. Donaldson and George R.R. Martin. It could take in authors as different, not to say opposed, as Kingsley and Martin Amis, Anthony Burgess, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett, Don DeLillo, and Julian Barnes. By the end of the century, even authors deeply committed to the realist novel have often found themselves unable to resist the gravitational pull of the fantastic as a literary mode. This is not the same, one should note, as fantasy as a literary genre – of the authors listed above, only four besides Tolkien would find their works regularly placed on the ‘fantasy’ shelves of bookshops, and ‘the fantastic’ includes many genres besides fantasy: allegory and parable, fairy-tale, horror and science fiction, modern ghost-story and medieval romance. Nevertheless, the point remains. Those authors of the twentieth century who have spoken most powerfully to and for their contemporaries have for some reason found it necessary to use the metaphoric mode of fantasy, to write about worlds and creatures which we know do not exist, whether Tolkien’s ‘Middle-earth’, Orwell’s ‘Ingsoc’, the remote islands of Golding and Wells, or the Martians and Tralfa-madorians who burst into peaceful English or American suburbia in Wells and Vonnegut. A ready explanation for this phenomenon is of course that it represents a kind of literary disease, whose sufferers – the millions of readers of fantasy – should be scorned, pitied, or rehabilitated back to correct and proper taste. Commonly the disease is said to be ‘escapism’: readers and writers of fantasy are fleeing from reality. The problem with this is that so many of the originators of the later twentieth-century fantastic mode, including all four of those first mentioned above (Tolkien, Orwell, Golding, Vonnegut) are combat veterans, present at or at least deeply involved in the most traumatically significant events of the century, such as the Battle of the Somme (Tolkien), the bombing of Dresden (Vonnegut), the rise and early victory of fascism (Orwell). Nor can anyone say that they turned their backs on these events. Rather, they had to find some way of communicating and commenting on them. It is strange that this had, for some reason, in so many cases to involve fantasy as well as realism, but that is what has happened.
Tom Shippey (J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century)
The main thing is not to be deceived, that is, to lie and and simulate better than the others. All Stendhal's great novels revolve around the problem of hypocrisy, around the secret of how to deal with men and how to rule the world; they are all in the nature of text-book of political realism and courses of instruction in political amoralism. In his critique of Stendhal, Balzac already remarks that Chartreuse de Parme is a new Principe, which Machiavelli himself, if he had lived as an emigre in the Italy of nineteenth century, would not have been able to write any differently. Julien Sorel's Machiavellian motto, "Qui veut les fins veut les moyens," here acquires its classical formulation, as used repeatedly by Balzac himself, namely that one must accept the rules of the world's game, if one wants to count in the world and to take part in the play.
Arnold Hauser (The Social History of Art: Volume 4: Naturalism, Impressionism, The Film Age)
Novelists encounter a world not only overloaded with information but overloaded with novels, possibly overloaded with novels confronting the overload of information. On an immediate social level, the enormity of published work has the effect of isolating readers. The general dispersal of culture into fragmented and miscellaneous units in the information-age has a more pronounced effect on literature, if only because novels typically take longer to read than films take to watch or albums take to listen to. It takes comparatively more effort to know about the same things, therefore it’s less common. The upshot is that it is more difficult to get the kind of basic social-reinforcement around literature that merges individual interests into a scene or community that people want to belong to, which is one of the main reasons it’s now such a challenge for writers to fix coordinates for their work.
Ben Jeffery (Anti-Matter: Michel Houellebecq and Depressive Realism)
The American novel claims to find its unity in reducing man either to elementals or to his external reactions and to his behavior. It does not choose feelings or passions to give a detailed description of, such as we find in classic French novels. It rejects analysis and the search for a fundamental psychological motive that could explain and recapitulate the behavior of a character. This is why the unity of this novel form is only the unity of the flash of recognition. Its technique consists in describing men by their outside appearances, in their most casual actions, of reproducing, without comment, everything they say down to their repetitions, and finally by acting as if men were entirely defined by their daily automatisms. On this mechanical level men, in fact, seem exactly alike, which explains this peculiar universe in which all the characters appear interchangeable, even down to their physical peculiarities. This technique is called realistic only owing to a misapprehension. In addition to the fact that realism in art is, as we shall see, an incomprehensible idea, it is perfectly obvious that this fictitious world is not attempting a reproduction, pure and simple, of reality, but the most arbitrary form of stylization. It is born of a mutilation, and of a voluntary mutilation, performed on reality. The unity thus obtained is a degraded unity, a leveling off of human beings and of the world. It would seem that for these writers it is the inner life that deprives human actions of unity and that tears people away from one another. This is a partially legitimate suspicion. But rebellion, which is one of the sources of the art of fiction, can find satisfaction only in constructing unity on the basis of affirming this interior reality and not of denying it. To deny it totally is to refer oneself to an imaginary man.
Albert Camus (The Rebel)
God was dead: to begin with. And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead. Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead. Modernism, postmodernism, realism and surrealism were all dead. Jazz was dead, pop music, disco, rap, classical music, dead. Culture was dead. Decency, society, family values were dead. The past was dead. History was dead. The welfare state was dead. Politics was dead. Democracy was dead. Communism, fascism, neoliberalism, capitalism, all dead, and marxism, dead, feminism, also dead. Political correctness, dead. Racism was dead. Religion was dead. Thought was dead. Hope was dead. Truth and fiction were both dead. The media was dead. The internet was dead. Twitter, instagram, facebook, google, dead. Love was dead. Death was dead. A great many things were dead. Some, though, weren’t, or weren’t dead yet. Life wasn’t yet dead. Revolution wasn’t dead. Racial equality wasn’t dead. Hatred wasn’t dead. But the computer? Dead. TV? Dead. Radio? Dead. Mobiles were dead. Batteries were dead. Marriages were dead, sex
Ali Smith (Winter)
God was dead: to begin with. And romance was dead. Chivalry was dead. Poetry, the novel, painting, they were all dead, and art was dead. Theatre and cinema were both dead. Literature was dead. The book was dead. Modernism, postmodernism, realism and surrealism were all dead. Jazz was dead, pop music, disco, rap, classical music, dead. Culture was dead. Decency, society, family values were dead. The past was dead. History was dead. The welfare state was dead. Politics was dead. Democracy was dead. Communism, fascism, neoliberalism, capitalism, all dead, and marxism, dead, feminism, also dead. Political correctness, dead. Racism was dead. Religion was dead. Thought was dead. Hope was dead. Truth and fiction were both dead. The media was dead. The internet was dead. Twitter, instagram, facebook, google, dead. Love was dead. Death was dead. A great many things were dead. Some, though, weren’t, or weren’t dead yet. Life wasn’t yet dead. Revolution wasn’t dead. Racial equality wasn’t dead. Hatred wasn’t dead. But the computer? Dead. TV? Dead. Radio? Dead. Mobiles were dead. Batteries were dead. Marriages were dead, sex lives were dead, conversation was dead. Leaves were dead. Flowers were dead, dead in their water. Imagine being haunted by the ghosts of all these dead things. Imagine being haunted by the ghost of a flower. No, imagine being haunted (if there were such a thing as being haunted, rather than just neurosis or psychosis) by the ghost (if there were such a thing as ghosts, rather than just imagination) of a flower. Ghosts themselves weren’t dead, not exactly. Instead, the following questions came up: “are ghosts dead are ghosts dead or alive are ghosts deadly” but in any case forget ghosts, put them out of your mind because this isn’t a ghost story, though it’s the dead of winter when it happens, a bright sunny post-millennial global-warming Christmas Eve morning (Christmas, too, dead), and it’s about real things really happening in the real world involving real people in real time on the real earth (uh huh, earth, also dead):
Ali Smith (Winter (Seasonal #2))
With the motto “do what you will,” Rabelais gave himself permission to do anything he damn well pleased with the language and the form of the novel; as a result, every author of an innovative novel mixing literary forms and genres in an extravagant style is indebted to Rabelais, directly or indirectly. Out of his codpiece came Aneau’s Alector, Nashe’s Unfortunate Traveller, López de Úbeda’s Justina, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Béroalde de Verville’s Fantastic Tales, Sorel’s Francion, Burton’s Anatomy, Swift’s Tale of a Tub and Gulliver’s Travels, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Amory’s John Buncle, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, the novels of Diderot and maybe Voltaire (a late convert), Smollett’s Adventures of an Atom, Hoffmann’s Tomcat Murr, Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Southey’s Doctor, Melville’s Moby-Dick, Flaubert’s Temptation of Saint Anthony and Bouvard and Pecuchet, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Frederick Rolfe’s ornate novels, Bely’s Petersburg, Joyce’s Ulysses, Witkiewicz’s Polish jokes, Flann O’Brien’s Irish farces, Philip Wylie’s Finnley Wren, Patchen’s tender novels, Burroughs’s and Kerouac’s mad ones, Nabokov’s later works, Schmidt’s fiction, the novels of Durrell, Burgess (especially A Clockwork Orange and Earthly Powers), Gaddis and Pynchon, Barth, Coover, Sorrentino, Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo, Brossard’s later works, the masterpieces of Latin American magic realism (Paradiso, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Three Trapped Tigers, I the Supreme, Avalovara, Terra Nostra, Palinuro of Mexico), the fabulous creations of those gay Cubans Severo Sarduy and Reinaldo Arenas, Markson’s Springer’s Progress, Mano’s Take Five, Ríos’s Larva and otros libros, the novels of Paul West, Tom Robbins, Stanley Elkin, Alexander Theroux, W. M. Spackman, Alasdair Gray, Gaétan Soucy, and Rikki Ducornet (“Lady Rabelais,” as one critic called her), Mark Leyner’s hyperbolic novels, the writings of Magiser Gass, Greer Gilman’s folkloric fictions and Roger Boylan’s Celtic comedies, Vollmann’s voluminous volumes, Wallace’s brainy fictions, Siegel’s Love in a Dead Language, Danielewski’s novels, Jackson’s Half Life, Field’s Ululu, De La Pava’s Naked Singularity, and James McCourt’s ongoing Mawrdew Czgowchwz saga. (p. 331)
Steven Moore (The Novel: An Alternative History: Beginnings to 1600)
With that understanding of how I am defining the term, let me propose 14 meta-inventions that occurred after –800. Six are in the arts, three in philosophy, three in mathematics, and two in the sciences: Artistic realism Linear perspective Artistic abstraction Polyphony Drama The novel Meditation Logic Ethics Arabic numerals The mathematical proof The calibration of uncertainty The secular observation of nature The scientific method Are these the meta-inventions since –800, exactly 14 in number? That claim is too ambitious. The borders of a meta-invention are fuzzy, and drawing boxes around a single meta-invention is sometimes arbitrary—the single meta-invention called scientific method in my list could easily be broken into half a dozen separate ones. I will describe the thinking behind my choices as I go along, noting some borderline cases that barely missed the cut. The note discusses some others.[4]
Charles Murray (Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950)
Very soon you will find yourself at the end of a dirt road, only inches from a threshold . . . a threshold into another world—a glorious world, one of infinite possibility. You’ll be standing there contemplating your next move when a gust of wind whispers, “Have faith.” When you hear those magic words, it’ll be time for you to cross the threshold and begin your journey . . .
Mark Ristau (A Hero Dreams)
The authors who gathered around my magazine New Worlds shared my feelings that through literary SF we could regenerate Anglophone fiction. I am glad to say this experiment largely succeeded, so that most of our best-known literary writers employ techniques which we were responsible for developing. The latest Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day, as well as work by Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Brett Easton Ellis and many, many other writers contains methods first developed in New Worlds. We were all, of course, part of the general zeitgeist which was also influenced by non-European fiction and created what some came to call "magic realism." --Michael Moorcock, Introduction to the Taiwan Edition of Elric
Michael Moorcock (Elric in the Dream Realms (Chronicles of the Last Emperor of Melniboné, #5))
Do provocative stories tell us what it means to be human? Do spine-tingling stories assist us to comprehend what it takes to make our way in an amorphous world littered with anarchy and despair? Is a collection of stories a cognitive effort to draw out conceptual insight and hand down derived wisdom? Is storytelling a therapeutic modality? Does the structural mechanics of folktales, short stories, and novels serve as a storehouse of useful information, or does their precision gadgetry provide for an interactive interface to wring more awareness out of human experience? How does the amorous meandering of a conscientious voice wending its way through beloved stories help us perform our own romantic shape making? Can reading and writing along with telling our personal stories with lyrical realism actually burn new neural routes through the brain? Can merely sharing bands of thought waves connect the reader to the writer, and connect the speaker to the listener?
Kilroy J. Oldster (Dead Toad Scrolls)
Like,” he repeats with distaste. “How about I tell you what I don’t like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series, but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, you needn’t tell me about the ‘next big series’ until it is ensconced on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Above all, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter how many copies you promise I’ll sell on Mother’s Day.” Amelia blushes, though she is angry more than embarrassed. She agrees with some of what A.J. has said, but his manner is unnecessarily insulting. Knightley Press doesn’t even sell half of that stuff anyway. She studies him. He is older than Amelia but not by much, not by more than ten years. He is too young to like so little. “What do you like?” she asks. “Everything else,” he says. “I will also admit to an occasional weakness for short-story collections. Customers never want to buy them though.” There is only one short-story collection on Amelia’s list, a debut. Amelia hasn’t read the whole thing, and time dictates that she probably won’t, but she liked the first story. An American sixth-grade class and an Indian sixth-grade class participate in an international pen pal program. The narrator is an Indian kid in the American class who keeps feeding comical misinformation about Indian culture to the Americans. She clears her throat, which is still terribly dry. “The Year Bombay Became Mumbai. I think it will have special int—” “No,” he says. “I haven’t even told you what it’s about yet.” “Just no.” “But why?” “If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll admit that you’re only telling me about it because I’m partially Indian and you think this will be my special interest. Am I right?” Amelia imagines smashing the ancient computer over his head. “I’m telling you about this because you said you liked short stories! And it’s the only one on my list. And for the record”—here, she lies—“it’s completely wonderful from start to finish. Even if it is a debut. “And do you know what else? I love debuts. I love discovering something new. It’s part of the whole reason I do this job.” Amelia rises. Her head is pounding. Maybe she does drink too much? Her head is pounding and her heart is, too. “Do you want my opinion?” “Not particularly,” he says. “What are you, twenty-five?” “Mr. Fikry, this is a lovely store, but if you continue in this this this”—as a child, she stuttered and it occasionally returns when she is upset; she clears her throat—“this backward way of thinking, there won’t be an Island Books before too long.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
Like,” he repeats with distaste. “How about I tell you what I don’t like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series, but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, you needn’t tell me about the ‘next big series’ until it is ensconced on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Above all, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter how many copies you promise I’ll sell on Mother’s Day.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
In 1910 Leroux had his greatest literary success with Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera). This is both a detective story and a dark romantic melodrama and was inspired by Leroux’s passion for and obsession with the Paris Opera House. And there is no mystery as to why he found the building so fascinating because it is one of the architectural wonders of the nineteenth century. The opulent design and the fantastically luxurious furnishings added to its glory, making it the most famous and prestigious opera house in all Europe. The structure comprises seventeen floors, including five deep and vast cellars and sub cellars beneath the building. The size of the Paris Opera House is difficult to conceive. According to an article in Scribner’s Magazine in 1879, just after it first opened to the public, the Opera House contained 2,531 doors with 7,593 keys. There were nine vast reservoirs, with two tanks holding a total of 22,222 gallons of water. At the time there were fourteen furnaces used to provide the heating, and dressing-rooms for five hundred performers. There was a stable for a dozen or so horses which were used in the more ambitious productions. In essence then the Paris Opera House was like a very small magnificent city. During a visit there, Leroux heard the legend of a bizarre figure, thought by many to be a ghost, who had lived secretly in the cavernous labyrinth of the Opera cellars and who, apparently, engineered some terrible accidents within the theatre as though he bore it a tremendous grudge. These stories whetted Leroux’s journalistic appetite. Convinced that there was some truth behind these weird tales, he investigated further and acquired a series of accounts relating to the mysterious ‘ghost’. It was then that he decided to turn these titillating titbits of theatre gossip into a novel. The building is ideal for a dark, fantastic Grand Guignol scenario. It is believed that during the construction of the Opera House it became necessary to pump underground water away from the foundation pit of the building, thus creating a huge subterranean lake which inspired Leroux to use it as one of his settings, the lair, in fact, of the Phantom. With its extraordinary maze-like structure, the various stage devices primed for magical stage effects and that remarkable subterranean lake, the Opera House is not only the ideal backdrop for this romantic fantasy but it also emerges as one of the main characters of this compelling tale. In using the real Opera House as its setting, Leroux was able to enhance the overall sense of realism in his novel.
David Stuart Davies (The Phantom of the Opera)
Alyosha was more of a realist than anyone. Oh! no doubt, in the monastery he fully believed in miracles, but, to my thinking, miracles are never a stumbling-block to the realist. It is not miracles that dispose realists to belief. The genuine realist, if he is an unbeliever, will always find strength and ability to disbelieve in the miraculous, and if he is confronted with a miracle as an irrefutable fact he would rather disbelieve his own senses than admit the fact. Even if he admits it, he admits it as a fact of nature till then unrecognised by him. Faith does not, in the realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith. If the realist once believes, then he is bound by his very realism to admit the miraculous also.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (The Complete Works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Novels, Short Stories & Autobiographical Writings (Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Notes from Underground, The Brothers Karamazov…))
Filming was done outside San Antonio, Texas. The scale of the production was vast and complex. Whole battlefields were scrupulously re-created on the plains of Texas. Wellman deployed as many as five thousand extras and sixty airplanes in some scenes—an enormous logistical exercise. The army sent its best aviators from Selfridge Field in Michigan—the very men with whom Lindbergh had just flown to Ottawa—and stunt fliers were used for the more dangerous scenes. Wellman asked a lot of his airmen. One pilot was killed, another broke his neck, and several more sustained other serious injuries. Wellman did some of the more dangerous stunt flying himself. All this gave the movie’s aerial scenes a realism and immediacy that many found almost literally breathtaking. Wellman captured features of flight that had never been caught on film before—the shadows of planes moving across the earth, the sensation of flying through drifting smoke, the stately fall of bombs, and the destructive puffs of impact that follow. Even the land-bound scenes were filmed with a thoughtfulness and originality that set Wings apart. To bring the viewer into a Parisian nightclub, Wellman used a boom shot in which the camera traveled through the room just above table height, skimming over drinks and between revelers, before arriving at the table of Arlen and Rogers. It is an entrancing shot even now, but it was rivetingly novel in 1927. “Wings,” wrote Penelope Gilliatt simply in The New Yorker in 1971, “is truly beautiful.” Wings was selected as best picture at the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Wellman, however, wasn’t even invited to the ceremony.
Bill Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927)
The realistic novels of George Eliot appeared after p England wearied of the fanciful fictions of Walter Scott. A generation passed by before the reaction set in with full force. Both writers wrote as they did, largely in obedience to the tendencies of their times, upon which they reacted and were reacted upon. They wrote because of personal repressions. Their methods of of expression were different , because of a desire to comply somewhat with literary traditions. Romanticism was fashionable in 1830, while realism was in the air in 1860.
Albert Mordell (The Erotic Motive In Literature)
A skeptic of all sentimentality, she has a witty, rueful voice that gives a deadpan appraisal of the past and present. We see the patriotism of World War I turn to chalk as the telegrams begin arriving at home. During the red scares of the 1930s, we listen to the rumbles of labor strife while wealthy barons deride those downtown ruffians pretending to be unemployed. Atwood's crisp wit and steely realism are reminiscent of Edith Wharton - but don't forget that side order of comic-book science fiction. How goofy to repeatedly interrupt this haunting novel with episodes about the Lizard Men of Xenor. And yet, what great fun this is - and how brilliantly it works to flesh out the dime-novel culture of the 1930s and to emphasize the precarious position of women.
Ron Charles
How about I tell you what I don’t like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups à la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series, but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, you needn’t tell me about the ‘next big series’ until it is ensconced on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Above all, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter how many copies you promise I’ll sell on Mother’s Day.
Gabrielle Zevin (The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry)
But to read a great Russian novel is to have an altogether different experience. The baseness, the beast in us, the misery of life, are there as plain to see as in the French book, but what we are left with is not despair and not loathing, but a sense of pity and wonder before mankind that can so suffer. The Russian sees life in that way because the Russian genius is primarily poetical; the French genius is not. Anna Karénina is a tragedy; Madame Bovary is not. Realism and Romanticism, or comparative degrees of Realism, have nothing to do with the matter. It is a case of the small soul against the great soul and the power of a writer whose special endowment is “voir clair dans ce qui est” against the intuition of a poet. If
Edith Hamilton (The Greek Way)
Я пытался писать обыкновенный роман по методу социалистического реализма — единственному, который я знал, которому учили со школьной парты и далее всю жизнь. Но правда жизни, превращаясь в «правду художественную», почему-то на глазах тускнела, становилась банальной, гладенькой, лживой и, наконец, подлой. Социалистический реализм обязывает писать не столько так, как было, сколько так, как это должно было быть, или, во всяком случае, могло быть. Ложный и лицемерный этот и метод, собственно, и загубил великую в прошлом русскую литературу. Я отказываюсь от него навсегда [11—12].
Анатолий Кузнецов (Babi Yar: A Document in the Form of a Novel)
The impulse behind fantasy I find to be dissatisfaction with literary realism. Realism leaves out so much. Any consensual reality (though wider even than realism) nonetheless leaves out a great deal also. Certainly one solution to the difficulty of treating experience that is not dealt with in the literary tradition, or even in consensual reality itself, is to 'skew' the reality of a piece of fiction, that is, to employ fantasy. Sometimes authors can't face the full reality of what they feel or know and can therefore express that reality only through hints and guesses. Fantasies often fit this pattern, for example, Edith Wharton's fine ghost story, 'Afterwards.' Wharton can't afford to investigate too explicitely the assumptions and values of the society which provided her with money and position; so although the story 'knows' in a sense that the artistic culture of the wealthy depends on devastatingly brutal commecial practices, none of this can be as explicit as, say, Sylvia Townsend Warner's wonderful historical novel, Summer Will Show, in which the mid-19th century heroine ends by reading the Communist Manifesto. But there are other stories, quite as 'Gothic' in method and tone, which do not fit this pattern. Authors may know what their experience is and yet be unable to name it, not because it is unconscious or unfaceable, but because it is not majority experience. Shirley Jackson strikes me as a writer who does both: for example, clearly portraying Eleanor (in The Haunting of Hill House) as an abused child long before the phrase itself was invented, occasionally using material she doesn't really seem to have understood; and sometimes dislocating reality because conventional forms simply will not express the kind of experience she knows exists. After all, reality is -- collectively speaking -- a social invention and is not itself real. Individually, it is as much something human beings do as it is something refractory that is prior to us and outside us.
Joanna Russ (How to Suppress Women's Writing)
Throughout the novel there is a very carefully planned selection of episodes and incidents, so that “realism,” if interpreted to mean a kind of journalistic reportage, is misleading. Every detail in Madame Bovary is chosen for a purpose and is closely related to everything else that precedes and follows it, to an extent that may not be evident (or possible) in real life. There is profound artistry involved in what is selected and omitted and in what weight is given to specific incidents.
James L. Roberts (CliffsNotes on Flaubert's Madame Bovary (Cliffsnotes Literature Guides))
That life sometimes imitates art is a mere Oscar Wilde-ish curiosity; that it should set about to do so in such unseemly haste that between notes and novel (not to mention between the drafted and the printed page) what had been fiction becomes idle fact, invention history--disconcerting! Especially to a fictionist who, like yours truly, had long since turned his professional back on literary realism in favour of the fabulous irreal, and only in this latest enterprise had projected, not without misgiving, a detente with the realistic tradition. It is as if Reality, a mistress too long ignored, must now settle scores with her errant lover.
John Barth (Letters)
Now I was interested in difficult, gritty fictions, in large, expansive novels, in social realism. I was interested in Pynchon, Amis, Dos Passos. I was interested in Faulkner and Didion and Bowles, writers whose bleak, relentless styles stood in stark opposition to what I imagined
Joanna Rakoff (My Salinger Year)
The unblushingly romantic has far less power to deceive than the apparently realistic. Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories...The real danger lurks in sober-faced novels where all appears to be very probable but all is in fact contrived to put across some social or ethical or religious or anti-religious ‘comment on life’.
C.S. Lewis
Can you not see," I said, "that fairy tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward; but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its nature essentially incredible? Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is—what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is—what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
G.K. Chesterton (Tremendous Trifles)
Folk-lore means that the soul is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels. Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is–what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem of the modern novel is–what will a madman do with a dull world? In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad. In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins, and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
G.K. Chesterton (The G.K. Chesterton Collection II [46 Books])
The original outline for my midlife crisis was to take a break from a defunct business model and escape into a predictable job at a museum. The intriguing portion of my midlife crisis was to arrive in Argentina and chat it up with a handsome paleontologist while getting a predictable job done. Sitting dumbstruck, in a darkened library, after reading a stack of sultry love letters wasn't part of any script, but I liked intrigue.
Eva Newcastle (Haunting Patagonia: A Novel of Passages & Echos)
this quote will be very long because I'm trying to see, it it'll work, on long sentences. Maybe that's the problem with the other quote? Who knows?
Neil Gaiman (The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
JMG: Many of your novels are rooted in the tradition of magic. In writing The Probable Future, how did you manage to blur the lines between fantasy and reality but still make the plot events seem plausible? How do you trust your readers to make that leap and still identify with—and relate to—your characters? AH: I feel that the tradition of literature, of storytelling, is rooted in magic. Realism seems to me a newer, less interesting tradition. I grew up reading fairy tales, science fiction, fantasy. As far as making the leap to belief, as soon as a reader opens a book he or she must suspend belief—marks on paper become a real world. The next leap, to identify and relate with fantastical occurrences, seems easy to me. The sort of magic I write about is that which is rooted in the real world—the probable and the possible.
Alice Hoffman (The Probable Future)