Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction Since

Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction Since the 1960s [BOOKS] ✫ Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction Since the 1960s Author Ben Masters – Thomashillier.co.uk We live in a time of linguistic plainness This is the age of the tweet and the internet meme the soundbite, the status, the slogan Everything reduced to its most basic components Stripped back Pared d We live in Ethics and eBook ✓ a time of linguistic plainness This is the age of Novel Style: PDF/EPUB ² the tweet and the internet meme the soundbite, the status, the slogan Everything reduced Style: Ethics and PDF ↠ to its most basic components Stripped back Pared down Even in the world of literature, where we might hope to find some linguistic luxury, we are flirting with a recessionary mood Big books abound, but rhetorical largesse at the level of the sentence is a shrinking economy There is a prevailing minimalist sensibility in the twenty first centuryNovel Style is driven by the conviction that elaborate writing opens up unique ways of thinking that are endangered when expression is reduced to its leanest possible forms By re examining the works of essential English stylists of the late twentieth century Anthony Burgess, Angela Carter, Martin Amis , as well as a newer generation of twenty first century stylists Zadie Smith, Nicola Barker, David Mitchell , Ben Masters argues for the ethical power of stylistic flamboyance in fiction and demonstrates how being a stylist and an ethicist are one and the same thing A passionate championing of elaborate writing and close reading, Novel Style illuminates what it means to have style and how style can change us.


10 thoughts on “Novel Style: Ethics and Excess in English Fiction Since the 1960s

  1. Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Nathan "N.R." Gaddis says:

    Grab your Sunday coffee and lets listen in on this conversation re Excess Never mind that it s about English Fiction just calmly convert it all into your favorite regional doings You know what I mean Let s listen Excess is a lonely condition If a novelist rejoices in puns, paronomasias, similes, antanaclases, acrostics, alliteration, assonance, anagrams, lipograms, well, he better really rejoice in them, because nobody else will Readers put the book down after crashing against the f Grab your Sunday coffee and lets listen in on this conversation re Excess Never mind that it s about English Fiction just calmly convert it all into your favorite regional doings You know what I mean Let s listen Excess is a lonely condition If a novelist rejoices in puns, paronomasias, similes, antanaclases, acrostics, alliteration, assonance, anagrams, lipograms, well, he better really rejoice in them, because nobody else will Readers put the book down after crashing against the first difficult word, critics put him down for pretentiousness, and fellow novelists will affronted by his ambition crashing against the first difficult word, critics put him down for pretentiousness I just witnessed this re CityOnFire and boy o boy is that ever knot a novel of excess it s trim trim trim But still gr Readers complained about his vocabulary How many of you prefer to read non ambitious novels ____________Read the whole thing without my blather Excess from ecstasy to extermination by Miguelhttps obloguedeluismiguelrosa.blogs___________ because it strives to persuade the reader that excess has always been the norm and that only recently has the genre degenerated into the plain, the accessible, the journalistic You see this too in gr Reader Reviewers talking about the information they glean when reading a novel what they learn about a character s background for example This is what feeds the frenzy of never ending sciFI Fant SERIES s and why for example, bad as it is, Asimov s Foundation Tril is so far superior to the rest of the Foundation Series For example same with Dune, zB I tell you what though, you read for INFORMATION, you ain t reading for ART, dude Here s a nice purple LIST Theroux Metaphrastes An Essay on Literature In Defense of Purple Prose by Paul WestThe Novel An Alternative History Beginnings to 1600 of course We live in a time of linguistic plainness This is the age of the tweet and the internet meme the soundbite, the status, the slogan Everything reduced to its most basic components Stripped back Pared down Even in the world of literature, where we might hope to find some linguistic luxury, we are flirting with a recessionary mood Big books abound, but rhetorical largesse at the level of the sentence is a shrinking economy Ben Master That last sentence is what I ve been experiencing this year in many of the LONG novels I ve been reading Not only is rhetorical largesseor less absent, so too is the thrill of story narrative I mean, this is international too book Captivity 23298192 at 900 pages readslike a Quest Fantasy novel than a classical picaresque ala Tom Jones or what not It s just a lot of information but little art to the stylists of yore, Burgess, Angela Carter, and Martin Amis, presumably himself, Zadie Smith, Nicola Barker and David Mitchell I ve read one Carter, one Burgess plus his Joyce thing , several Smith, Barker queued up, no Mitchell but saw the unfortunate movie and Lawrence Durrell deserves better than a passing reference since he was to my knowledge the first post war English novelist to rebel against plainness when a bunch of angry young men were busy foisting austerity on readers until now it had never struck me how alike Alex and Humbert Humbert are, two rapist murderers with a penchant for overblown oratory Indeed, everything seems to begin with Nabokov I ll never catch up on my Nabokov Before Nabokov, America shied away from excess Twain, Hawthorne, Wharton, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Salinger, Caldwell, Nathanael West, Hemingway Melville that England had an autochthonous tradition of excess dating back to John Lyly Does anyone who s not read Moore s book know anything of Lyly Novelists who feel obliged to serve causes and to keep up with the world in order to report on it, won t be dedicating a lot of time to the classics, to philology, to the study of foreign languages The exception to the generalization of course being Vollmann and a few others but we already count all them as Excessivists Pynchon like Joyce, Burgess, Nabokov, Chesterton, Fr Rolfe, Theroux, who lived secluded in their hermetic worlds of nostalgia, elitism, pedantry and private obsessions, one of them being polishing phrases to perfection The opposite case being Sartre through and through political almost despised art one would say were one to read his fiction And, I wonder, what was extreme about 5th century BC Greece when poetic prose was invented by Gorgias, the spiritual father of rhetorical excess Or in the 11th century that gave us al Hariri and his maqama in rhymed prose The 16th century of Rabelais and Lyly The 17th century of Baroque preachers The early 19th century of Moby Dick Just in general, generally speaking, by way of a suggestion, I d suggest that, as a critical way of going about things when you read reviews amateur or edited paid profi, no matter you look for clues like this does the reviewer evidence a knowledge, an awareness, of the HISTORTY of fiction literature Do they evidence any reading prior to, say, 1801 And somewhere outside, say, certain well known national borders That was Nabokov, Durrell, Burgess, Barth, Hawkes Hawkes most grRated book has 899 ratings You d think, you know, he d be muchwidely read He noticed that beginning in the 1950s a series of novels had showed up at the same time which, after decades of crude realism and plain prose, had rescued form and storytelling That would be Robert Scholes The Fabulators _____________William T Vollmann American Writing Today A Diagnosis of the Disease, Conjunction 1990 1 We should never write without feeling.2 Unless we are muchinteresting than we imagine we are, we should strive to feel not only about Self, but also about Other Not the vacuum so often between Self and Other Not the unworthiness of Other Not the Other as a negation or eclipse of Self Not even about the Other exclusive of Self, because that is but a trickster egoist s way of worshiping Self secretly We must treat Self and Other as equal partners Of course I am suggesting nothing new I do not mean to suggest anything new Health isimportant than novelty 3 We should portray important human problems.4 We should seek for solutions to those problems Whether or not we find them, the seeking will deepen the portrait.5 We should know our subject, treating it with the respect with which Self must treat Other We should know it in all senses, until our eyes are bleary from seeing it, our ears ring from listening to it, our muscles ache from embracing it, our gonads are raw from making love to it If this sounds pompous, it is perhaps because I wear thick spectacles 6 We should believe that truth exists.7 We should aim to benefit others in addition to ourselves._____________ Basically, in the late 1980s rising young novelists, still weaned on post modernism but tired of its alleged hollowness, tried to create a softer, gentler version, to inject in fiction sincerity, warmth, no nonsense discussion of ethics, to fuse its formal innovations with the old business of illuminating the human condition, because apparently mediocre novels like Lolita, J R and The Sot Weed Factor had done a lousy job at that heh yeah She thought she could, until a terrorist attack and a Wood essay made her have a change of art that s Zadie Smith I want to read her again, but her last I d read left me rather not so happy I never saw Smith as a stylist of excess, or even as a stylist to my mind, stylist doesn t need modifiers, the word itself contains the idea of excess I always connect style with thought because of what Ms Young said about style is thought and I always experience those writers without style as being without thought Same goes for philosophy If you ve seen the movie adaptation, which is pretty good, you ll know why it s well made, the 6 narratives are gripping, satisfying and very cinematic, which is a sure sign that the novel doesn t depend a lot on language, that nothing crucial was lost from one medium to another to polish myself I ll claim that I just said the very same thing about City on Fire heh How to justify a novel to people who thought the only book worth reading was the Bible anyway I guess one solution is to compose it as if it were a holy book That s Moby Dick However, that s in the past Episodes, subplots, detours, surprises, twists, little stories within stories, self contained narratives nestled in nooks, the kind of thing you get in Pynchon and Barth That s why Cloud Atlas did so well in cinema, it s just narrative story story story Likewise, Sergio De La Pava s A Naked Singularity is an excellent novel, not only because of the language, its electrifying colloquialism, but because its plot is as gripping as the crime novel it s pretending not to be, and because Casi, the protagonist, is likeable and sincere and unironic, and because from it emanates an old fashioned aura of gravitas that seems revolutionary in our blas times But it wasn t enough to sustain a second novel So modern excess is the fusion of puritanism and populism, plainness and plot, the hatred of beauty and rhetoric allied to the craving for stories the popularity of big novels, big on facts but too thin on tropes and figures of speech Goldfinch Style is elitist Style builds walls Excess is an exigent exercise Plot, on the other hand, is democratic That s nice, but if you use 10 different points of view in a novel, and they all share the same background and education, they re going to sound the same, and there won t be much opportunity for rhetorical showing off at the sentence level And you may have many registers, as is common to find in contemporary novels, you know, now a section in tweets, now a section in emails, now a chapter like an IRS form how exciting , maybe a chapter structured like a job interview, or how about a CV, etc., oh, how we love those little pastiches, but if each different register springs from mundane speech, isn t that just miserliness masquerading as Midas touch That s the visual stuff in City on Fire and Night Film Mitchell, like Melville, knows lots of things he knows about 19th century slave trade, early 20th century music, corporate espionage, the book industry, science Like a nice novelist brought up on American excess, he knows lots of things Like many of them, he s also banal at the sentence level Mitchel is so damn pop u lar I got all kinds of schadenfreude when this kind of stuff pops up I ain t never read me no Mitchell though so but I bet the costume designer loved to know that Tom Hanks was supposed to be dressed in trousers and a Pea jacket Style doesn t translate well The modern world is made for Mitchell and Smith to triumph with their international language Excess, you see, is pleasurable Mental health, learning to adjust to the world, has to do with experiencing beauty We could benefit from being dehumanized a bitand treatedlike words We should treat others the way stylists treat words Imagine that Eden Imagine if a politico spent as much time with people as Alexander Theroux evidently does with the dictionary imagine if your boss valued you the way Burgess valued language imagine a parent raising a child with the loving patience Joyce raised a pun imagine your friends wanting to improve you the way Nabokov wanted to improve his metaphors imagine a president making the careful decisions Gass made when he chose a word to make a sentence sound better Just imagine being demanded a level of excellence stylists demand for themselves when crafting a paragraph


  2. Ahmed Ahmed says:

    I read a couple of chapters for my thesis and I must tell you it is amazing.


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