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Monday, September 14, 2009

P.S. Made Some Changes to the Review of the Affinity Konar book "The Illustrated Version of Things"

In my review of this book dated Aug. 1, 2009, I made the argument that highly evocative and complex novels generally deal with ideas moreso than psychology. I stand by this, but I do believe that I need to more fully explicate what I mean by "ideas."

The philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty once pointed out that we do not "read" a novel in any simple, literal fashion. Rather, we "inhabit" it as a world unto itself.

I have never encountered a better description of the experience of reading a novel. But I do have an important caveat: Merleau-Ponty seems to be envisioning the world of the novel as unitary. Any novel is multi-vocal and multi-faceted. (However, they are not fragmentary. "Fragments" implies a lost former wholeness.) Obviously, the task of the novelist is to make this multivocal and multi-faceted "world" compelling through some sort of design. Traditionally, this is chiefly done using the techniques of, primarily, character, plot, style, point of view, and setting.

An experimental novel can be thought of as a design that subverts one or more of these techniques, thereby opening worlds for novels to create that were heretofore impossible.

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