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Who at 28 is a bit up there, but the unicorns did not mind, she had lots of really nice brush strokes and now they will really miss her. The H belatedly realizes that the h can't be his brother in law's mistress and runs off for the hills. He does his best to avoid both his prying mother and his increasingly irate and ever more jealous sister, who still fawns over her cheating husband when he plays the tragically overworked and ill sympathy card to avoid being found out about his latest fling that was NOT the h.

The H has also had a girlfriend that he quits sleeping with during all of this. So after he flees the country and the h on a business trip and then returns, the H takes his girlfriend out to his club for dinner. Lo and behold, the h and his brother in law are having dinner at the H's club too. The skeevy brother in law has no problem using the H's name to get his lady buffet samples on the side into suitably high class places and he managed to get the h to go to dinner by telling her he had news on the shop rents.

In the ensuing scene, the h learns the truth about who the H really is and that the brother in law is not a mere property manager. She has a very well done and dignified verbal smack down of the nematode slime swiller brother in law and then she leaves the restaurant. The H abandoned his date in the restaurant to follow the h. The h now knows the whole sorry situation with the H's sister thinking she is her husband's mistress and that the H was only there to pry the brother in law away from the h. The H never bothered to call after their big night of love, he has lied to her, abused her trust and never even given her the opportunity to clear her own name.

The h is very, very angry about this treatment, so she lies and tells the H she is preggers and then leaves him standing on the street. The H manages to find the h a day or so later, the h knows full well he was only using her for a pump and dump moment, even tho AM shows us that the H is more confused than that internally. He really did decide not to call the h. Between his family's demands, the whacked out behavior of his sister and the problems that his brother in law causes, the H keeps having to pull the man off of various business deals that the H has to go fix because he messes them up.

The H figured his catapulting emotional reactions to the h were just too much to deal with and so he figured he needed to jettison the h. There is some tense conversation between the H and the h, where the h points out a few nasty home truths to the H about his character and his methods. Then she admits she lied about being up the duff, just to make the H feel even a smidgen of remorse for his callous treatment of her.

The H does feel a bit badly for being a nematode, but then he threatens to punitively raise the rents. The h does a fine job of staring him down and he shamefacedly admits he wouldn't really do that, as he again runs off to sulk. We get some AM filler as the h and H both have family commitments and mopey moments. The h's mother is a busybody drama queen who is currently in a cast and the h is apparently the only one she wants to wait on her.

If the h tries to explain that she has a business to run, the h's mother guilt trips her into compliance, so honestly both the h and the H have mostly sewer slurping relatives. The H's longing gets the better of him tho and he decides he wants a real affair with the h. So he buys a big house locally and then gets the h's mother, who is also an interior designer, to decorate it.

This forces the h into contact with the H, when she clearly doesn't want to and the h's mother's irritating meddling and prodding only makes the situation more excruciating. The h's mother firmly believes that the h isn't sophisticated or pretty enough to attract the H and there are frequent warnings that the H is only out for one thing. AM has some fairly funny moments as the h reflects on her mother's dire and unflattering warnings and how it seems to be a bit late for that.

Once again via some Treacherous Body Syndrome gropey moves and several roofie kisses, the H gets the h to agree to attend a party at his home. The H doesn't explain that the party is at his London home, not the h's village and the h is shanghaied to the H's party, kinda against her will. The h bought herself a new outfit and by her reaction to the H's caviar, it is pretty clear she is probably pregnant.

That is a seekrit for later revelation tho, because the big drama is when the H's sister shows up with her cheating nematode and there is a big confrontation with the sister, the cheating nematode, the H and the h. The h is hurt that the H went out of his way to further abuse and humiliate her, especially when his sister claims that the H may have tupped the h, but he certainly won't marry her and the H reluctantly nods his agreement. The H had a bad marriage and an even worse divorce, so he is NOT keen on going through a repeat, especially when all the women he seems to meet are as stupid, greedy and as grasping as his ex wife and his sister.

The h dumps the H, again. She goes back to her village to have a mopey moment. Then the H's meddling busy body mother shows up. The h stands firm and uses her backbone as the H's mother tries to first bully, then berate and finally guilt the h into seeing the H. The h only agrees to go see the H because the mother explains that some random insane guy shot the H and he is living in his unrenovated, barely functioning house in the h's village as some sort of outward expression of his inner torment over missing the h. The h arrives at the H's badly in need of decent plumbing and wiring home and after seeing for herself how pale, drawn and pathetic the H has deteriorated to, she flings herself into his arms and forces him to confess that he really does love her.

The H obliges and the h gets the H's chauffeur to scope them all up and whisk them away to her cozy cottage, for lashings of love and a surprise baby announcement to hasten the wedding planning, for the whacked out but happy AM HEA. I am very ashamed of me for enjoying this one so much. The H and both families were really not people to root for, the H's sister needed to be sent for a long walk off a short cliff for sure and the cheating nematode brother in law need a harsh dose of multiple skillets.

But the h has a solid backbone and now that the H is marrying her, she will have no problems making sure that the sister minds her manners and her mouth over Christmas dinner. AM also does the really sadly pining and physically declining H syndrome really well and to be really mean, I kinda miss that little flourish in more recent HP offerings.

The nineties in HPlandia just don't have enough physically fading and pining H's, so it always an HP bonus when you run into them. Don't expect great romance here, that is only about a two, but the whacktasticness is five star for drama and wreckiness, which makes this a solid three for an HP outing.

View all 6 comments. Oct 22, Eva Harlowe rated it liked it. This is one of those books that I had on my TBR for a while and was hesitant to pick up because the title is boring and kind of vague. Wicked Caprice. What does that tell us? Somebody in the story changes his mind about somebody in a… playfully malicious way. Everyone else said you were.

As it turns out, you are good and kind and as pure as the driven snow and I regret that I had to violate you with my peen and take your virginity to discover that you were telling me the truth all along. Will you marry me? It's a tale as old as time. Very romantic. This is not the first time Richard has cheated on Jillian, but this time, Jillian has had enough and she wants her big brother Patrick to storm into Cotswold and put an end to the affair Richard is having with his latest harlot once and for all.

The alleged Jezebel is Isobel Herriot, the owner of a little curio shop called Caprice, and renting her retail space from Shannon Holdings, of which Patrick is the chairman. Patrick had originally sent out Richard to Cotswold to deal with their tenants there because he figured, what the hell kind of trouble could Richard possibly get into in a one-horse village like that. A lot, it turns out, and trouble came in the slender, yet shapely body of Isobel Herriot.

AT ALL. She wears long, shapeless skirts and shabby blouses and And yet the first sight of her is like a punch in the gut for Patrick. Patrick makes up some bullspit excuse for being in her shop so he could look more leisurely at her and decides that Isobel Herriot is one tempting baggage, indeed. Then he bolts out of the shop before he does something stupid like grab her and kiss her breathless. Isobel thinks Patrick Riker--most likely not his real name--is the most handsome man she has ever met, but there was something about him that told her to back off.

Izzy doesn't really care about stuff like that and told herself it was unlikely she'd see Patrick Riker again anyway. She already has her hands full with one increasingly attentive man who's determined to get her into bed. Izzy is finding it hard to keep being diplomatic and polite with him even though he says he's trying to help them.

He could be as persistent as a gnat. It'd be one thing if Richard were single; he is a good-looking guy. He is also married with children. Meanwhile, Patrick can't stop thinking about Isobel and realizes that he is starting to become obsessed with her. Don't these people understand that he has a multi-billion dollar corporation to run? Soon enough, he starts to come up with more and more excuses to see Isobel. Isobel tells him she's perfectly happy where she is and doesn't need his help.

But Patrick refuses to be deterred. A good clean break, that's the ticket. Radio silence. Oh hell no! And… and he owns the building in which she has her store. She's got a bun in the oven. This was a pleasant enough read and I really enjoyed the chemistry between Patrick and Isobel. They trust this guy to run a multi-billion dollar corporation? And how the hell does Patrick end up getting shot? It was me. I shot Patrick. You shouldn't tell a girl you're gonna call her when you don't intend to. That shit is unforgivable.

View 1 comment. I bought this book a while back but never really felt inclined to read it, I'm not a massive fan of the title! But I really enjoyed reading this one. The relationship between the hero and heroine is built really well by the author, there is plenty of passion and angst, with a little bit of misunderstanding thrown in.

The hero was particularly well crafted - he was at war with his feelings towards the heroine and this is portrayed beautifully. The heroine has a great mix of feistiness and naivety t I bought this book a while back but never really felt inclined to read it, I'm not a massive fan of the title!

The heroine has a great mix of feistiness and naivety that makes her very relatable, I also liked that she made sure to assert her independence. The author set up the initial meeting between the hero and heroine and the eventual betrayal perfectly, both the hero and heroine were at fault, which made this book much less one sided than a lot of other books with the revenge style plot. But overall this is a well written story, with a wonderful love-story that has plenty of passion and emotion. May 10, Roub rated it really liked it Shelves: favorites.

May 20, Tia rated it liked it. Heroine and heroine meet when he goes to her shop thinking she is having an affair with his brother in law. Which really isn't true, he is taking classes of the arts above her shop.

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Eventually the hero falls in love with the heroine and her spunky personality. The world is fundamentally hostile to literature, in great part because the world is gregarious, and literature is a solitary pursuit. It is life that shakes and rocks us, it is literature which stabilizes and confirms. He who had thought he had understood something in my work, had as a rule adjusted something in it to his own image—not infrequently the very opposite of myself. Literature…may enable us to exercise our senses more intensely and more fully than we otherwise have time or opportunity to.

An autobiography usually reveals nothing bad about its writer except his memory. Canadian books may occasionally have had a wild impact outside Canada; Canadian literature has had none. There are just three big cities in the United states that are story cities —New York, of course, New Orleans, and the best of the lot, San Francisco. The Pulitzer Prize in fiction takes dead aim at mediocrity and almost never misses. Another secret of fine prose is that it subtly teaches the reader how it works. It conveys not only information, not only instruction, but also the values in which the Information and instruction are properly framed.

Insights into the human condition are often more vividly expressed in a dramatic scene in a novel than in a text by an historian or psychologist. Literature—good, bad and indifferent—shapes our lives. Literature is not an escape from life, it is a way of experiencing life, on a larger scale—a way of understanding that what we feel and experience has been felt and experienced before, that our problems are not unique but have been faced be other people, and overcome.

Great literature teaches us about ourselves. It does not offer us pat, readymade solutions like self-help books; it offers examples and life experiences that help us, in good times or bad, to face our own problems. What is the difference between good novels and merely entertaining ones? It seems to me that a good novel is more than the sum of its parts, that when you have finished reading it you are moved by the characters to reflect on the subject of character itself.

Because they are so convincingly alive in a particular way the people in a good novel inevitably become advertisements for or against an idea, a form or desire, or an attitude toward experience. Literature has two advantages over wine. A good book ages forever; and you can read it as often as you wish without diminishing its substance. The devoted reader is like a wine lover whose dream has come true.

His stock will never spoil or be consumed.


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He can sample, enjoy, and share his cellar without fear of depleting his reserves; it will grow as he grows. He need never go thirsty. Any novel…is a synthetic composition fabricated of found art…and bits and pieces taken from a rag-bag of observations, memory, dreamy invention, willful creation. Where it exists, people seem to take it for granted, instead of shouting it to the housetops.

You would think it would find its way into fiction—surely, novelists must have noticed its joys, like a hungry man with his nose pressed to a bakery window—but ordinary life just about disappeared from fiction somewhere in the nineteenth century. Fiction is about pressure…. It draws its heat not from the sun but from friction, discord, opposition. Most literature deals consciously or unconsciously with the problem of reality; it asks what is real in the worlds, which values are real, which without foundation and therefore false or evil.

World literature is no longer an abstract anthology, nor a generalization invented be literary historians: It is, rather a certain common body and a common spirit, a living, heartfelt unity reflecting the growing unity of mankind. In a first-rate work of fiction, the real clash is not between the characters, but between the author and the world. A biography is not a compilation of facts. It is a portrait in words of a man or woman in conflict with himself or with the world around him, or with both.

Words make and break literature. Unlike other areas of communication, however, literature does more than inform or persuade or argue. It fulfills an emotive and aesthetic sense. It suggests a meaning, and conveys a tonal coloring.

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It is through literature that the word has been preserved and nourished and it is in literature that we find the candor and refreshment of truth. We must not forget that children can learn from Lewis Carroll as well as social studies, that they can learn from Aesop as well as the new math, that the ugly duckling need not be discarded in favor of driver education.

The short story was invented by de Maupassant and Chekhov between them, and its limits are apparent. It may not wander far, it has to keep close to its base point, it will only carry a few characters, three at least, at best not more than three; there is not time, or space, for elaborate characterization. One of the interesting things about being a novelist at this hour of the world is that one is working in a form that may be nearing the end of its line.

The realistic novel obviously has shot its bolt. The old masters of 20th-century fiction—especially Joyce and Kafka in their various ways—brought prose narrative to a kind of ultimacy. The special genius of the novel as a genre is its ability to depict not only the exterior world of action, but the interior world of character—and one crucial thing more, the relation between them. Despite or perhaps because of their increasingly complex nature, mysteries still remain at the top of the leisure-time reading category.

They are read by men and women, by the old and young. And for those who would rather not cope with problems, even not in books, the certainty that an answer awaits them at the end, offers a special soothing effect. All is well, that ends well! Good literature recalls the past, reflects the present, and prognosticates the future; it is more than a mirror, for it reaches ahead of today and beckons one into tomorrow, offering the reader new growth in wisdom, insight, and understanding.

Good literature…bears the mark of truth and integrity; it carries the reader along into genuine, if vicarious, experience; it stirs his emotions, arouses his curiosity, stimulates his mind, and gives him a measuring stick for living. The characters in the stories are as real as the people he knows; the ideas in essays, novels, plays, and poems are as true as the best thinking of the human mind. Literature, national though it be in origin, knows no frontiers, and should remain common currency between nations in spite of political or international upheavals.

The main object of the novel is to represent life. I cannot understand any other motive for interweaving imaginary incidents, and I do not perceive any other measure of the value of such combinations. The effect of a novel—the effect of any work of art—is to entertain; but that is a very different thing. The success of a work of art, to my mind, may be measured by the degree to which it produces a certain illusion; that illusion makes it appear to us for the time that we have lived another life—that we have had miraculous enlargement of experience.

The greater the art the greater the miracle, and the more certain also the fact that we have been entertained—in the best meaning of the word, at least, which signifies that we have been living at the expense of someone else. The once-looked-down-upon mystery novel has more than come into its own as a brilliant device for probing the ills of society. Fiction is properly at work on the here and now, or the past made here and now; for in novels we have to be there.

Fiction provides the ideal texture through which the feeling and meaning that permeate our own personal, present lives will best show through. For in his theme—the most vital and important part of the work at hand—the novelist has the blessing of the inexhaustible subject: you and me. And these symbolic experiences, in the work of any competent novelist, are woven together to form a consistent set of attitudes, whether of scorn, or compassion, or admiration of courage, or sympathy with the downtrodden, or a sense of futility, depending on his outlook.

Great writing opens our hearts to life, to suffering, to love. The choices an author does make, and those he does not, may tell us a great deal about him personally. It is this personal dimension of fiction that helps make the difference, I believe, between storytelling and literary art…. This is not to say that subjectivity and self-revelation will, in themselves, make a work of fiction good; but in every work of fiction that we do agree is good, it might well be found that the author himself is there invisibly as one of the characters—and usually as one of the more interesting characters.

Fiction permits you the imposition of a kind of order, a kind of coherence out of life. But with fiction you can for the moment freeze this. Fiction is born from the awareness that life is tragic. But there are certain stories that present ideas and emotions with a force that is never forgotten.

A short story should embody or suggest something universal, some kind of statement about life. I am not saying that a short story should be didactic, or intended to instruct, teach, or lecture the reader. Far from it. Nor am I saying that a short story should be aimed at uplifting the spirit. What I am suggesting is that the good short story—the story worthy of being read more than once—ultimately should be concerned with some aspect of the human experience.

It should entertain, it should be admirable esthetically; but, especially, it should have relevance above and beyond the relevance of the incidents and the characters themselves. The great novelists emphasize the complexity of human life and make it difficult to conceive of rapid solutions to age-old problems, but it may be important to note that this very complexity may put off a number of young people impatient for results. Non-fiction is in many ways more comforting; it assumes that things can be described, people categorized, problems analyzed….

Categories may make discourse easier but they tend to lead us away from human truth. The novel is a past reported in the present. On the stage it is always now. This confers upon the action an increased vitality which the novelist longs in vain to incorporate into his work. This condition in the theatre brings with it another important element:.

In the theatre we are not aware of the intervening storyteller. The speeches arise from the characters in an apparently pure spontaneity. A play visibly represents pure existing. A novel is what one mind, claiming omniscience, asserts to have existed. Short stories are like solar plexus blows. The effect is single and at once. What is a plot?

It is a series of incidents with a beginning, a middle, and an end. Like theme, characterization, and setting, it is one of the four elements of fiction, and it is perhaps the most important of these four elements. Plot is what happens. Alone, it is the tale told by the idiot who cannot see the point of the story, who is unaware of the background setting , and to whom all its characters or personages are of equal importance, and without past or future. Plot contains conflict, suspense, resolution or plot climax as distinguished from thematic climax , and the events are seldom told in exact chronological sequenced most plots, whether in stories, novels, or dramas, begin in the middle, go back to the beginning, and jump to the end.

To read a great novel helps us to live because it helps us better to understand life. Characters in a novel are not reticent as are people in real life. We listen in to their most intimate conversations. We are admitted into their silent deliberations. We know what they say to themselves in the darkness of the night. Then we realize, much to our surprise and relief, that they are nearer to us than we could have believed. The greatest of novels not only help us to understand life; they also help us to accept it, just as it is, with its miseries and delights. They give us a broad picture of the world, with its comedies and its tragedies, its noble and despicable characters.

In the hands of its great masters—Chekhov, James, Dostoevsky, Joyce, Kipling, Lawrence, Babel or Hemingway—the short story became preeminently a medium in which something happened. It was an event, or the dramatic representation of an event. It is the natural function of art to be interesting. Neither the plays of the Greeks nor those of Shakespeare are boring. The novels of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy engage the reader at every moment. The problem with most coterie art is that it is dull. Too often it is also vacant. The artist is so puffed up with himself that he has no time for the business in hand….

Finally, he finds himself alone and unappreciated. The mature reader buys non-fiction in increasing quantities. He knows that American biographers and historians still write with great skill and clarity. Since these people have not as yet been told that they are artists, they do their jobs as best they can and collect their royalties when their books are successful. All of literature comes out of the family—Oedipus, Hamlet—even Genesis is a family story. I like it when there is some feeling of threat or sense of menace in short stories. I think a little menace is fine to have in a story.

What creates tension in a piece of fiction is partly the way the concrete words are linked together to make up the visible action of the story. A good novel is a wondrous thing—entertaining, compelling, evocative and lasting! It should have strong narrative appeal and, ultimately should express the triumph of the human spirit, rather than defeat, radiance rather than darkness, passion and warmth rather than despair and disillusionment.

Fiction cannot help but be didactic, but it should be decently quiet about it. Characters in novels are interesting as much for their fallibilities as for their strengths, and this recognition makes one more tolerant in real life. The novel is usually not content…just to represent character in particular social circumstances, but also leads us to reflect on the ultimate purpose and meaning of an individual life.

One distinguishing feature of western literature is that the landscape is an active character; a participant in the events of a novel; that the landscape acts on, and interacts with, the human characters. The short story…simply cannot be defined. Art is : it springs forth from the soul, usually in mysterious ways; and it addresses itself to an audience, sometimes in humility, very often in arrogance…. Some illumination, some droll observation, the authenticity of what it feels like from a position alien to my own.

Creativity almost inevitably presupposes thinking without language, whether we are referring to a new idea, imagination, artistic creation, the emotional power of memory, or mathematical thought…. I have a very modest proposal for improving the teaching of literature in high schools. The novel is going to live as long as that propensity survives in the minds of men, women, and children.

Fiction is the most fluid and changing of literary forms, the one that most immediately reflects the changes in our collective consciousness, and in fact that is one of its great virtues. As soon as fiction gets frozen into one particular model, it loses that responsiveness to our immediate experience that is its hallmark. It becomes literary.

It seems to me that this is one of the major factors contributing to the recent decline in the popularity of fiction: People no longer believe in the novel as a medium that gets at the truth of their lives. The feeling seems to be strongest in those who grew up in neighborhoods, small towns or on farms.

In fiction you lay bare the problem…so that you can see how tormenting, how insoluble it is. If the word is sacred…fiction occupies the inner temple. It alone may reveal a universe; all other voices merely inform. I have learned to admire…the teachers who find the courage and resourcefulness to have students learn literary works by heart. They are few in number and they do so in the face of strong pedagogical theory and prejudice to the contrary.

Yet literature will remain a coating on the printed page or an intellectual game unless we can quicken it into real speech for the young. Reading aloud and learning by heart remain for me the two most essential, and most neglected, of literary activities. You might say plot is the skeleton of a book, character development its flesh and blood, and style, its heart. Each part must make sense in terms of the whole. A good plot gives the story shape and structurally moves the action along.

Children ask of a story what they ask of a dream—that it satisfy their wishes. The crime novel is a very useful tool for writers wanting to describe, analyze, and explain our time, our kind of society and human beings now. There is no reason whatsoever to regard the crime novel as a lower kind of literature compared to what is sometimes called real literature.

If life is a series of briefly glimpsed vistas, unrealized dreams, dimly perceived people, and stories that seem to have no beginning and no end, it is definitely not this way in fiction. Here at last is a world all of a piece. The people we meet in the books we read are people we know as we have known no one else in all our lives.

We are privy to their most intimate thoughts, their secret dreams, even their nightmares. Nothing is hidden from us—or so it appears. What these people do, therefore, is understandable to us when they say or do something, we know why they have said or done it. Why is biography not regarded as a creative art? But when a craft is carried out by a genius, it becomes art. Our most popular form of literature, the novel, apes the form of genuine history in order to bestow an air of reality on imaginary events. Everywhere, events are disappearing.

Thinking back over the stories of the decade, I am struck by the increasing. Does this mean, then, that we are entering an age of disguised autobiography? Both originate in a certain feeling—a governing emotion. Both are coming from the same place in the gut. For me the common denominator is always an ethical issue…. Everything starts from an observed fact of life and then the search begins for the issue….

American fiction has always see-sawed between realism, or naturalism, and romanticism. Realism used to shock—it still does, a number of readers…Today it is not the realistic but the romantic which startles, so unused to it have American readers become. Literature transmits condensed and irrefutable human experience in still another priceless way: from generation to generation. It thus becomes the living memory of a nation.

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What has faded into history it thus keeps warm and preserves in a form that defies distortion and falsehood. Literature has the same transforming quality as painting. To a very large extent every nation is the invention of its poets, novelists, and other authors who have written about the land and its people, about the dreams and aspirations of their countrymen as well as about the observed realities of their daily lives. America is no exception; America is a state of mind and spirit created in good part by the books that have emerged from American experience—as truly, certainly, as it is a political entity shaped by historical circumstance.

We are all, so to speak, the spiritual heirs of Poor Richard, Father Knickerbocker, Natty Bumppo, Hiawatha, Huckleberry Finn, and a long succession of other cherished figures from our literary past. They have fashioned our national image, not only in our own eyes but in the eyes of the world at large. I think that world literature has the power in these frightening times to help mankind see itself accurately despite what is advocated by partisans and by parties. It has the power to transmit the condensed experience of one region to another, so that different scales of values are combined, and so that one people accurately and concisely knows the true history of another with a power of recognition and acute awareness.

The one and only substitute for experience which we have not ourselves had is art, literature. We have been given a miraculous faculty: Despite the differences of language, customs and social structure we are able to communicate life experience from one whole nation to another, to communicate a difficult national experience many decades long which the second of the two has never experienced.

No woman has ever told the whole truth of her life. The autobiographies of most famous women are a series of accounts of the outward existence, of petty details and anecdotes which give no realisation of their real life.

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For the great moments of joy or agony they remain strangely silent. I have never read the life of any important person without discovering that he knew more and could do more than I could ever hope to know or do in half a dozen lifetimes. What I learned first, and most lastingly, is that whoever would tell the truth about any man must be, in the literal sense, his apologist…. I mean that the first and perhaps the only duty of an honest biographer is, so far as may be, to set forth the man of whom he writes as that men saw himself, and to explain him on his own terms.

Then judgment may best be left to those who read. For life is dazzling and complex: we cannot grasp it, we never understand the heart-in-action. But when the heart has stopped beating forever we turn to the lamp and the manuscript. Some artist pulls aside a curtain and shows us the man.

He becomes better known to posterity than he was to his intimate friends. He assays the role of a god, for in his hands the dead can by brought to life and granted a measure of immortality. He should, at least, then, seek to emulate the more reliable divinities in his zeal for truth, his tolerance of human frailty, and his love for mankind. The pure short story is a bit like a Chinese box puzzle; you have to have all the pieces fit just right, without any excess at all.

One of the benefits of fiction…is that it very often teaches you how to live. History is a novel which did take place; a novel is history that could take place. The vitality of a new movement in art or letters can be pretty accurately gauged by the fury it arouses. The unusual is only found in a very small percentage, except in literary creations, and that is exactly what makes literature. What is so wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote, and brings to birth in us also the creative impulse.

No human being ever spoke of scenery for above two minutes at a time, which makes me suspect that we hear too much of it in literature. It is in literature that the concrete outlook of humanity receives its expression. Biography, like big game hunting, is one of the recognized forms of sport, and it is as unfair as only sport can be. When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over a ball.

The novel is the highest example of subtle interrelatedness that man has discovered. Literature plays an important role in our country, helping the Party to educate the people correctly, to instill in them advanced, progressive ideas by which our Party is guided. And it is not without reason that writers in our country are called engineers of the human soul.

No wonder the really powerful men in our society, whether politicians or scientists, hold writers and poets in contempt. They do it because they get no evidence from modern literature that anybody is thinking about any significant question. What is wrong with most writing today is its flaccidity, its lack of pleasure in the manipulation of sounds and pauses. The written word is becoming inert.

One dreads to think what it will be like in A wondrous dream, a fantasy incarnate, fiction completes us, mutilated beings burdened with the awful dichotomy of having only one life and the ability to desire a thousand. Fiction is nothing less than the subtlest instrument for self-examination and self-display that mankind has invented yet. Literature could be said to be a sort of disciplined technique for arousing certain emotions.

Literature is recognizable through its capacity to evoke more than its says. Works of art and literature are not an entertainment or a diversion to amuse our leisure, but the one serious and enduring achievement of mankind—the notches on the bank of an irrigation channel which record the height to which the water once rose. A curious thing about written literature: It is about four thousand years old, but we have no way of knowing whether four thousand years constitutes senility or the maiden blush of youth.

Literature is, primarily, a chain of connections from the past to the present. Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but molds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac. When we want to understand grief beyond grief, or the eternal confrontation of man and woman, man and God, man and himself, we go to the novel.

Every novel worthy of the name is like another planet, whether large or small, which has its own laws just as it has its own flora and fauna. The serious novel is now almost in the same situation as poetry. Eventually the novel will simply be an academic exercise, written by academics to be used in classrooms in order to test the ingenuity of students.

There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there be. Lost Illu sion is the undisclosed title of every novel. Education has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine—they are the life, the soul of reading; take them out of this book for instance—you might as well take the book along with them. It literature is a means of transmitting experience, feeling, and emotion so that one man can tell others, either in the present or in the future, something of the story of how men and women have lived and felt and thought.

The only test of a work of literature is that it shall please other ages than its own. Literature stirs the mind. It makes you think about a million things, but it does not lead you. Fiction, even at its best, is remarkably useless in the world of events…The men who tinker with rubber, metal, neutrons and drugs—not those who tinker with fiction—hold the key to events. The novel is a powerful literary form which is capable of reaching out in the real world and modifying it. It is a form which even the nonliterary had better take seriously.

If this thirty-year period has in fact produced its identifying masterpieces, we do not appear to know what they are or where exactly to find them. Let us reflect whether there be any living writer whose silence we would consider a literary disaster. Perhaps great writers arrive only at certain stages of a civilization. Great writing may be conjured by great injustice. One cannot help feeling that its guardians sometimes miss the point of literature, which is not to cut gems of flashing and exquisite rarity but to communicate, to convey a meaning, an art, a story, a fantasy, even a mystery, to someone.

Need we totally scorn mere escapism? There are times when human beings need to put their feet up and relax. These books may even have the salutary effect of at least getting one faction of society reading, keeping minds active and increasing vocabulary. The object of the novel…is to enlarge experience, not to convey facts. For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain. A page of good prose is where one hears the noise of battle.

A page of good prose has the power to give grief or universality that lends it to a youthful beauty. A page of good prose seems to me the most serious dialogue that well-informed and intelligent men and women carry on today in this endeavor to make sure that the fires of this planet burn peaceably. Satire is a form of writing in which the message is serious and the method is humor. Satire is among the most powerful weapons we have.

You can do more with it than any other kind of writing. Satire is not the greatest type of literature…Still, it is one of the most original, challenging and memorable forms. One Catch or Dr. A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and the multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life. It tells us that for every human being there is a diversity of existences, that the single existence is itself an illusion in part, that these many existences signify something, tend to something, fulfill something; it promises us meaning, harmony, and even justice….

Art attempts to find in the universe, in matter as well as in the facts of life, what is fundamental, enduring, essential. A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason; if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect. We read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.

It does not follow because many books are written by persons born in America that there exists an American literature. Books which imitate or represent the thoughts and life of Europe do not constitute an American literature. Before such can exist, an original idea must animate this nation and fresh currents of life must call into life fresh thoughts along its shores.

The power of the Latin classic is in character , that of the Greek is in beauty. Now character is capable of being taught, learnt, and assimilated: beauty hardly. The whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world.

Culture is then properly described not as having its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of perfection; it is a study of perfection. No one can draw more out of things, books included, than he already knows. A man has no ears for that to which experience has given him no access. Of the pleasures derivable from the cultivation of the arts, sciences, and literature, time will not abate the growing passion; for old men still cherish an affection and feel a youthful enthusiasm in those pursuits, when all others have ceased to interest. The New Testament, and to a very large extent the Old, is the soul of man.

You cannot criticize it. It criticizes you. Literature is not an abstract science, to which exact definitions can be applied. Great literature, past or present, is the expression of great knowledge of the human heart; great art is the expression of a solution of the conflict between the demands of the world without and that within. By American literature in the proper sense we ought to mean literature written in an American way, with an American turn of language and an American cast of thought.

Art, it seems to me, should simplify. Every great literature has always been allegorical—allegorical of some view of the whole universe. No species of writing seems more worthy of cultivation than biography, none can be more delightful or more useful, none can more certainly enchain the heart by irresistible interest, or more widely diffuse instruction to every diversity of condition.

A great literature is chiefly the product of inquiring minds in revolt against the immovable certainties of the nation. I doubt if the texture of Southern life is any more grotesque than that of the rest of the nation, but it does seem evident that the Southern writer is particularly adept at recognizing the grotesque; and to recognize the grotesque, you have to have some notion of what is not grotesque and why. Literature is a fragment of a fragment; of all that ever happened, or has been said, but a fraction has been written, and of this but little is extant.

When literature is the sole business of life, it becomes a drudgery. When we are able to resort to it only at certain hours, it is a charming relaxation. A country which has no national literature, or a literature too insignificant to force its way abroad, must always be, to its neighbors at least, in every important spiritual respect, an unknown and unestimated country. The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation; the two keep pace in their downward tendency. There is such a thing as literary fashion, and prose and verse have been regulated by the same caprice that cuts our coats and cocks our hats.

A good novel should be, and generally is, a magnifying or diminishing glass of life. It may lessen or enlarge what it reflects, but the general features of society are faithfully reproduced by it. If a man reads such works with intelligent interest, he may learn almost as much of the world from his library as from the clubs and drawing rooms of St. The novel, in its best form, I regard as one of the most powerful engines of civilization ever invented.

Lessons of wisdom have never such power over us as when they are wrought into the heart through the groundwork of a story which engages the passions. Is it that we are like iron, and must first be heated before we can be wrought upon? Or is the heart so in love with deceit, that where a true report will not reach it, we must cheat it with a fable in order to come at the truth? Legitimately produced, and truly inspired, fiction interprets humanity, informs the understanding, and quickens the affections.

It reflects ourselves, warns us against prevailing social follies, adds rich specimens to our cabinets of character, dramatizes life for the unimaginative, daguerreotypes it for the unobservant, multiplies experience for the isolated or inactive, and cheers age, retirement, and invalidism with an available and harmless solace. We cannot possibly leave it to history as a discipline nor to sociology nor science nor economics to tell the story of our people. Realism is nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material. Literature is a power to be possessed, not a body of objects to be studied.

A novel is a static thing that one moves through; a play is a dynamic thing that moves past one. The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order. The novel is a subjective epic composition in which the author begs leave to treat the world according to his point of view. It is only a question, therefore, whether he has a point of view. The rest will take care of itself. Fiction still has more to tell people than nonfiction.

I think that we are being swallowed up by journalism and discourse. A good novel does address feelings. It engages you one to one; you and the writer together share something, share a sense of life. He breathed upon dead bodies and brought them into life. What point of morals, of manners, of economy, of philosophy, of religion, of taste, of the conduct of life, has he not settled?

What mystery has he not signified his knowledge of? What king has he not taught state, as Talma taught Napoleon? What maiden has not found him finer than her delicacy? What lover has he not outloved? What sage has he not outseen? What gentleman has he not instructed in the rudeness of his behavior? Shakespeare has done more for woman than all the other dramatists of the world. Every man with a belly full of the classics is an enemy of the human race.

I have often wondered about two things. First, why high school kids almost invariably hate the books they are assigned to read by their English teachers; and second, why English teachers almost invariably hate the books students read in their spare time. Something seems very wrong with such a situation.

There is a bridge out here, and the ferry service is uncertain at best. The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. No man understands a deep book until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents. It is only through fiction and the dimension of the imaginary that we can learn something real about individual experience. Any other approach is bound to be general and abstract. Great books are the voices of their times; the greatest literature is timeless. For most people, fiction is history; fiction is history without tables, graphs, dates, imports, edicts, evidence, laws; history without hiatus—intelligible, simple, smooth.

We rely upon the poets, the philosophers, and the playwrights to articulate what most of us can only feel, in joy or sorrow. They illuminate the thoughts for which we only grope; they give us the strength and balm we cannot find in ourselves. Whenever I feel my courage wavering I rush to them. They give me the wisdom of acceptance, the will and resilience to push on.

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You belong. Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. Literary fiction, whether directed to the purpose of transient amusement, or adopted as an indirect medium of instruction, has always in its most genuine form exhibited a mirror of the times in which it is composed; reflecting morals, customs, manners, peculiarity of character, and prevalence of opinion.

Thus, perhaps, after all, it forms the best history of nations. Literature, fiction, poetry, whatever, makes justice in the world. Biography and fiction are mirror forms, character creation by opposite means. Objective and subjective; learned and imagined; shaped and invented. It is a melancholy fact that in spite of the millions of dollars expended upon our schools, grammar and high, upon our colleges and our public libraries, a genuine love of literature is imparted to only a very small portion of our population. Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.

Shakespeare was an intellectual ocean, whose waves touched all the shores of thought,…towards which all rivers ran, and from which now the isles and continents of thought receive their dew and rain. My answer hath been, would he had blotted a thousand. I do believe that literature is revolutionary and thus, political in a deeper sense.

Literature not only sustains a historical experience and continues a tradition. It also—through moral risk and formal experimentation and verbal humor—transforms the conservative horizon of the readers and helps liberate us all from the determinisms of prejudice, doctrinal rigidity and barren repetition.


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  6. A good novel ought to have a shape. Pop novelists never fail to gather their strands of action into a climax. They are helped in this by the comparative inertness of their characters. The characters of an art novel resist the structure which their creators try to impose on them; they want to go their own way. They do not even want the book to come to an end and so they have, sometimes arbitrarily, as in E.

    Forster, to be killed off. A good novel contrives, nevertheless, somehow to trace a parabola. It is not merely a slice of life. It is life delicately molded into a shape. A picture has a frame and a novel ends where it has to—in some kind of resolution of thought or action which satisfies as the end of a symphony satisfies.

    A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens. The story speaks to the inner life of the reader. It is, I believe, as essential as food and water, as sleep, dreams, and love.

    Movies…are increasingly about technique, and technology, rather than people, and draw their inspiration from other movies rather than from any special passion or insight of the director. Literature is in danger of becoming similarly stylized and self-absorbed. There is a vast and growing body of fiction that takes as its subject the process of inventing fiction, or the conventions of fiction in this or that form, or the nature of fictional structures. This work is considered experimental by those who produce and admire it, generally the same people, but in practice most of it has become so ritualized and predictable that it is, in effect, simply another form of silence: white noise.

    For that matter, most of the noise that fills our lives is white noise. We live in a great silence where what frightens us and moves us and sustains us is rarely given voice. But when that silence is broken we bend forward and listen. Maybe the nature of fiction is that, unlike reporting for the New York Times, it has to admit everything—all aspects and forms of thought and behavior and feeling, no matter how awful they may be. Fiction has no borders; everything is open, you have a limitless possibility of knowing the truth.

    The great epics, like our own classics, must mean something, not by didactic pedagogy, propaganda, or edification—but by their action, a murky metaphysical historic significance, a sober intuition into the character of a nation—profundities imagined, as if in a dream, by authors who knew what they had written.

    A work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art curiosity, tenderness, kindness, ectasy is the norm. Literature conveys the recorded experience of the human condition, enabling individuals to transcend time, place, age, individual condition, and culture.

    Anne Mather

    Autobiography is an unrivaled vehicle for telling the truth about other people. Biography is to give a man some kind of shape after his death. The answers you get from literature depend upon the questions you pose. In short, a novel is only some work in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language. It is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed…by someone…wiser than oneself. No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.

    The reason that fiction is more interesting than any other form of literature to those of us who really like to study people, is that in fiction the author can really tell the truth without hurting anyone and without humiliating himself too much. There are writers you admire, for the skill or for the art, for the inventiveness or for the professionalism of a career well spent.

    And there are writers—sometimes the same ones, sometimes not—to whom you are powerfully attracted, for reasons that may or may not have to do with literary values. They speak to you, or speak for you, sometimes with a voice that could almost be your own. Often, there is one writer in particular who awakens you, who is the teacher they say you will meet when you are ready for the lesson. Serious literature does not exist to make life easy but to complicate it. The writer in Western civilization has become not a voice of his tribe, but of his individuality.

    An autobiography is an obituary in serial form with the last installment missing. Best-sellers are about murder, money, revenge, ambition, and sex, sex, sex. So are literary novels. But best-selling authors give you more per page: there are five murders, three world financial crises, two bankruptcies and a civil war in A Dangerous Fortune. There is more drama in it than a literary author will deal with in a lifetime of work.

    The illusion of art is to make one believe that great literature is very close to life, but exactly the opposite is true. Life is amorphous, literature is formal. Governments are suspicious of literature because it is a force that eludes them. Where we can describe, step by step, minute by minute, our not altogether unpleasant struggle to put ourselves into a viable and devout relationship to our beloved and mistaken world. Fiction is not a dream.

    Nor is it guesswork. It is imagining based on facts, and the facts must be accurate or the work of imagining will not stand up. Both technically and thematically Chicano literature is a revolutionary force in that it advocates a change not necessarily solicited, welcome, or wanted, by the dominant culture. Chicano literature is revolutionary in that it imposes itself forcefully rather than sits back for natural evolution to invite it in.

    The future of literature is bright. The de-emphasis will be on merely mirroring the cultural; in the sense of a representational or realistic mirroring of the culture, the trend is to a more personal work which will carry the culture in it, but will have a concern with experimentation, with style, and perhaps character. Here we write well when we expose frauds and hypocrites. We are great at counting warts and blemishes and weighing feet of clay. In expressing love, we belong among the undeveloped countries.

    The Mormon Bible is chloroform in print. If Joseph Smith composed this book, the act was a miracle—keeping awake while he did it was, at any rate. The want of human interest is always felt. Paradise Lost is one of the books which the reader admires and lays down, and forgets to take up again. Its perusal is a duty rather than a pleasure. None ever wished it longer than it is. I have a prejudice against people who print things in a foreign language and add no translation.

    When I am the reader, and the author considers me able to do the translating myself, he pays me quite a nice compliment—but if he would do the translating for me I would try to get along without the compliment. Only those things are beautiful which are inspired by madness and written by reason. To know the force of human genius we should read Shakespeare; to see the insignificance of human learning we may study his commentators. Reading a translation is like looking at a tapestry on the wrong side. Novels, when well-written, tell you more about life than the most sophisticated computerized sociology.

    Some censuring Readers will scornfully say, why hath this Lady writ her own Life? The best biographies leave their readers with a sense of having all but entered into a second life, and of having come to know another human being in some ways better than he knew himself. The pleasure of reading biography, like that of reading letters, derives from the universal hunger to penetrate other lives.

    Literature teaches us about human possibility. It stretches the imagination and teaches us to imagine people who are different from us and yet are human like us. And so we can empathize with them, and we can stretch our understanding of what it is to be human and to deal with perennial human problems: love, death, sex, the individual in society, making your way in the world, loss, transience. I really think that literature, the arts, all the products of culture are the commonwealth of humanity.

    One way to experience the adventure of humanity is to travel, to meet people who are not like us, who speak other languages, who make their living in different ways, whose cities look different from ours, whose farms grow different crops. So the past is another country, too. And yet, since we are all, after all, one species, if we do a lot of research, it is possible for us to attain never a full understanding, but some degree of empathetic understanding of what it was like, what their problems were, what light they shed on our problems, and vice versa.

    When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense fo myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young. All good literature is a treasure of honey in the combs of God. Shakespeare tells the same stories over and over in so many guises that it takes a long time before you notice. Mysteries and thrillers are not the same things, though they are literary siblings. Roughly put, I would say the distinction is that mysteries emphasize motive and psychology whereas thrillers rely more heavily on action and plot.

    Some mysteries are thrillers and some thrillers are mysteries, but not all mysteries are thrillers, nor are all thrillers mysteries. This special field of literature, in contrast to that of practical and that of scientific concerns, involves…feelings and attitudes. At first glance, the field of feeling and attitudes may seem trivial when thought of in contrast to the great bustling practical business of the world or in contrast to the vast body of organized knowledge which science is and which allows man to master, to a certain degree, nature and his own fate.

    But at second thought, we may realize that all the action and knowledge in the world can be valuable only as these things bring meaning to life—to our particular lives especially. Literature is the most complicated language that man has invented for talking not only to others but to himself. In literature we enter the contraries of the human predicament more fully and what distinguishes literature from other forms of knowledge is that it cannot be understood unless we understand what it is to be human.

    To read Dickens is to be caught up in a tumble of words—and in language juicy with the flux of life. It would be wrong to think them gullible. In everyone there is a certain thing that loves children, fears death and that likes sunlight: that thing enjoys Dickens. Before long the reading of novels will occupy a niche not much more significant than the one currently occupied by the reading of poems in Latin. I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries. Fiction is the truth inside the lie. Seuss story as a kid that focused on the environment.

    She Jane Austen is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness. I love biographies. I get very excited by the truth that comes out of what people have left behind, like letters. I first fell in love with Emily Dickinson when I read her letters. Kafka found life unbearably complicated, altogether daunting, and for the most part joyless, and so described it in his fiction. This is not, let us agree, the best outlook for a great writer.

    Great writers are impressed by the mysteries of life; poor Kafka was crushed by them. Novels can pull off a trick that nonfiction cannot replicate; they allow us not only to consider an idea in elaborate detail, but to inhabit an idea, to follow it through to its most extreme conclusions.

    To live it. Language gradually varies, and with it fade away the writings of authors who have flourished their allotted time. Words have a power beyond their meaning. I remember the stories of my childhood, but I remember the single words that shone out of fairy stories—milk and buns, a flask of wine, a cabbage cut fresh from the garden. I see the whiteness, feel the sticky brown, marvel at the beads of moisture on thin, cold glass, hear the knife click through the stem and touch the dew along the ribbed leaves.

    I would read again stories that frightened me, for the sake of such perceptions. They seem to echo an older life, beyond my knowing. Into this wild ocean of words Shakespeare plunged head over heels, and disported himself in it with a wild dolphin joy. He collected words from everywhere, from rustic speech and dialect he no doubt spoke the Warwickshire dialect all his life , from Chaucer and the old books, from translators of the classics, from lawyers and grave theologians, from traveled young gallants.

    He was, moreover, perhaps the greatest word-creator the world has ever known, and has probably added more new words to our vocabulary than all the other English poets put together. Take the sum of human achievement in action, in science, in art, in literature—subtract the work of the men above forty, and while we should miss great treasures, even priceless treasures, we would practically be where we are today….

    The effective, moving, vitalizing work of the world is done between the ages of twenty-five and forty. Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning. Children who do hear stories and are read stories from early on have an intuitive understanding of how one thing resolutely leads into another, that things in life are connected, whereas children who do not hear stories do not hear that connectedness.


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    6. They think that incidents happen without connection, that life is a series of disconnected bursts that happen to you. Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful.