Tag Archives: Literature

The Sorrows of a Young[ish] Writer

“From the moment I start a new novel, life’s just one endless torture. The first few chapters may go fairly well and I may feel there’s still chance to prove my worth, but that feeling soon disappears and every day I feel less and less satisfied. I begin to say the book’s no good, far inferior to my earlier ones, until I’ve wrung torture out of every page, every sentence, every word, and the very commas and full stops look excruciatingly ugly. Then, when it’s finished, when it’s finished, what a relief! Not the blissful delight of a man who goes into ectasies over his own production, but the resentful relief of a delivery man dropping a burden that’s nearly broken his back. Then it starts all over again, and it’ll go on starting all over again till it grinds the life out of me, and I shall end my days furious with myself for lacking talent, for not leaving behind a more finished work, a bigger pile of books, and lie on my death-bed filled with awful doubts about the task I’ve done, wondering whether it was as it ought to have been, whether I ought not to have done this or that, expressing with my last dying breath the wish that I might do it all over again!” 

Emile Zola, The Masterpiece

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Writers’ Words not Relevant beyond their Books

“in terms of having anything useful or helpful to say about their own works, authors might as well be dead. The only intention of the author that counts is what is contained in the text, as understood by readers who interact with it. Any interpretation the author might care to share about his or her own works is, at best, no more relevant than the interpretation of any other reader. Or, to put it in proper literary jargon, the author’s intent is not privileged above other interpretations.” …

“It is generally agreed that the author’s role is finished when the work is completed and published. After that point, the text must speak for itself ’ or, at the most, those few remaining critics who have not altogether abandoned authorial intent might ask the author to clarify what he or she intended (note the past tense) by including certain elements in the text. The writer’s contribution is frozen at the point of time that he or she finished writing.”

“But it seems that nobody has informed the authors of that. Authors, being people, have responses to their own works and they also have responses to the readers who read their works. Just as readers and critics judge authors by how they write, writers judge readers by how they read, and critics by how they criticize. Authors may change their feelings and beliefs about their own work after seeing how the audience responds to it. Many authors are disposed to defend their work against criticism, answer questions, clarify what they see as misunderstandings, and in general do whatever they think will help to enhance reader enjoyment and guide critical discussion into what they see as fruitful paths.”

From: the-leaky-cauldron.org/features/essays/issue9/authordead/

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Read Fiction to uncork your Emotions

“Fictional nature does not alter the impact of a tragic story, leaving the reader more emotionally distraught than if they had read the true story instead.”
    
Readers “may choose to read a tragic fictional story because they assume that knowing it was fictional would make them less sad than reading a less dramatic, but true story.”
    
“However, the fictional nature does not alter the impact of the tragic story, leaving them more emotionally distraught than if they had read the true story instead.”

Publishers take note: Readers “tend to believe that true stories will have a greater emotional impact than fictional stories. However, our results suggest that while emphasizing realism may increase sales, it does not necessarily increase satisfaction.”

From: post.jagran.com/tragic-fiction-may-leave-you-emotionally-upset-study-1409205025

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Ask not what you can do for books, but what books can do for you

“Reading is the key that unlocks the mind …

Reading is the building block to learning and helps to teach positive values which are good for a healthy mind. A book can teach you about the mysteries that life holds. Through reading you can become what you want to be in life.

We read to discipline our mind to behave in a particular way, to fill the mind with knowledge, skills, attitude and experience, to calm the mind in times of stress, conflict and tension, to recreate the mind for relaxation and enjoyment.

Reading helps improve your vocabulary, your concentration, your communication skills, and your ability to understand things and situations.
Reading inspirational stories can give you the motivation you need. In times of misfortune, or if you are in low spirits, just pick up a motivational book and it will provide comfort. A book is a friend which can give you positive and uplifting direction in life.

… if you read on a regular basis it can help you to relax and quieten your mind which in turn can help you reduce your stress levels No matter how much stress you have at work, in your personal relationships, or countless other issues, it all slips away when you engage yourself in reading

.”

What else you gain by reading: fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=277230

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True as Fiction

“Understanding stories is similar to the way we understand the real world. “When people read stories we invoke personal experiences. We’re relying not just on words on a page, but also our own past experiences. … We often have thoughts and emotions that are consistent with what’s going on in a story.”

According to research, “social outcomes that could come out of being exposed to narrative fiction can include exposure to social content, reflecting on past social interactions, or imagining future interactions.” “We may gain insight into things that have happened in the past that relates to a character in a story, and resonates with our experiences.”

“Even though fiction is fabricated, it can communicate truths about human psychology and relationships.”

From: m.firstpost.com/living/heres-reading-fiction-will-make-better-person-1660663.html

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Suffering and Literature

“In Molotov’s Magic Lantern: A Journey into Russian History (Faber), which is history-cum-travelogue, Rachel Polonsky, a Cambridge academician, asks whether “there is a set of secret maps to be found among a person’s books, a way through the fortifications of the self” that would explain why a person’s deep love and apparent appreciation of literature (and culture in the larger sense) can be responsible for the execution of so many writers during the purges. Is this because, as the Russian scholar Dmitri Likhachev said, “the Russian people perish from an excess of space” that makes its literature “the most significant, the most tragic, the most philosophical”? These are the underlying questions, often asked about the relationship between suffering and literature, that Polonsky pursues in her book as she travels around the former Soviet empire to revisit the ghosts of great Russian writers of the past.”

From: business-standard.com/india/news/v-vjourney-into-russian-history/418671/

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When the Sword is Mightier than the Pen

“PEN’s survey allowed participants to ofer long-form comments on surveillance; PEN also invited members to share their thoughts and personal experiences via email. In reviewing the responses, themes emerged centering on writers’ self-censorship and fear that their communications would bring harm to themselves, their friends, or sources:

1. PEN writers now assume that their communications are monitored.
2. The assumption that they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:
a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;
b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and
c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will endanger their counterparts by doing so.”

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Literary Fame is a Fleeting Moment

“The team also investigated the changing nature of fame over the past two centuries. By looking at the frequency of famous people’s names in literature, they showed that celebrities born in the mid-20th century tended to be younger and more famous than those of the 19th century, but their fame lasted for a shorter period of time. By 1950, celebrities were achieving fame, on average, when they were 29, compared with 43 for celebrities around 1800. “People are getting more famous than ever before,” wrote the researchers, “but are being forgotten more rapidly than ever.”

“Mark Twain is among the most famous writers and among the most famous people,” said Michel. “Among the American presidents, it’s Theodore Roosevelt.”

“Aiden warned against straightforward comparisons of historical figures, however. “It’s comparing apples and oranges comparing presidents from the mid to late 20th century and those that precede them. The reason is that they haven’t really had the full opportunity to reach the height of their fame trajectory. By virtue of having been around longer, someone in the mid-19th century is going to have accrued a lot of fame.”

“By the mid 20th century, the most famous actors tended to achieve fame at around 30 years of age, while writers had to wait until they were 40. For politicians, fame didn’t tend to happen until they reached 50 or above.”

“Science is a poor route to fame. Physicists and biologists eventually reached a similar level of fame as actors but it took them far longer,” wrote the researchers. “Alas, even at their peak, mathematicians tend not to be appreciated by the public.”

From: theguardian.com/science/2010/dec/16/google-tool-english-cultural-trends

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Bestsellers Bad for Reading Culture?

“Michael Dirda wrote about book best-seller lists for BookForum, calling them “bad for readers, bad for publishing, and bad for culture. Above all, despite appearances, the best-seller list isn’t populist; it’s elitist. If there are a dozen slots, six are filled by the same old establishment names. For every James Patterson novel on the list, that’s one fewer novel by someone else.” He continued:

The best-seller list functions, in essence, as a restraint of trade, a visible hand that crushes the life out of the literary marketplace. If one were to magically eliminate every form of the list, in print and online, as well as all those best-seller tables in Barnes & Noble, what would happen? People would spend more time browsing a bookstore’s stock, they would skim a page or two of various interesting-looking titles, and eventually they would plunk down their twenty dollars. In short, they would actively engage with a greater portion of our literary culture. Customers might even discuss their tastes with the shop’s owner or staff, who would actually recommend a few appropriate titles. Friends, neighbors, and colleagues might also suggest beloved novels, biographies, and poetry collections.

Without a best-seller list, authors would compete on something like a level playing field, while readers would buy the books that spoke most meaningfully to their particular interests and tastes rather than settling for the one-size-fits-all titles found in the back pages of the New York Times Book Review.”

From” salon.com/2014/06/22/casey_kasem_ronald_reagan_and_musics_1_percent_artificial_popularity_is_not_democracy/

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Warning: Literature Will Stir Your Mind

In “some American universities, novels such as The Great Gatsby and Mrs Dalloway are being tagged with “trigger warnings” alerting students to potentially disturbing material.”

“Why would anyone take an English literature course if they were so fragile they could not cope with the emotions great literature deals with? That is not the main issue, however. The problem with such tagging is that it grossly insults the book itself and literature in general. All other arguments against such overprotective coddling are as nothing to the sheer ignorance such a process displays for the art of writing.”

“Almost all first-class fiction revolves around painful issues of some sort. Trying to protect readers from the corrosive aspects of life is akin to sending a child out into the world without their vaccinations.”

…”writers are mirrors of their times, and a saintly novelist does not and never will exist. We read not to encounter perfect, politically correct or sanitised characters, but to enter the author’s imagined worlds, warts and all. Strip out all conflict or fear, prejudice or unpleasantness, violence, death or heartbreak, and you’d have nothing but Janet and John storybooks.”

From: heraldscotland.com/mobile/books-poetry/comment-debate/good-literature-can-disturb-get-over-it.24094002

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