and there it stands
as a beacon of the life
I used to have calling me back to where I used to live
not that far from now
but far enough to
look quite small
it pricks the sky just above the horizon
but that doesn’t mean much
it doesn’t do anything
Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
In the valley of its making where executives
Would never want to tamper, flows on south
From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth.
— Part II, “In Memory of WB Yeats” by WH Auden
I recently bought “The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books” co-edited by C. Max Magee, creator/editor of The Millions. I really thought it looked promising since there is very little serious writing on this particular contemporary issue. Unfortunately, I have read the first six (very short) essays in the anthology and it is an overwhelming disappointment.
I have finally, as anyone who cares about art should, read Benjamin’s “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” I did not know what to expect, and was surprised by what I found. It is an essay that deals mostly with film and not at all with literature. Despite the author’s political tendencies he had some very remarkable points about the nature of art — remarkable in that they were honest and clear and, well, novel. He examines the implications of technical (not manual) reproduction on the properties and values of traditional art forms, moving to film as an exemplar of an art created in this new environment of reproduction. But he doesn’t mention literature. Continue reading
Points of note…
- Beginning of 16th c. English language had almost no prestige abroad (More’s Utopia (1516) was written for serious international audience in Latin, not translated into English until 1550’s)
- Development of language linked in part to the strengthening of English state Continue reading
I am not at all convinced that “literary” is a proper genre specification of the novel in the same way that “science fiction” is a genre. It seems that perhaps a “novel” is inherently literary and so there are genres of fiction, the novel being one. If anything, this clarification of terms is simply to preface the following words on the current discussion of literary vs. genre fiction and the problem of audience and marketing that the former type is experiencing in the digital age.