Category: Literature

Embrace the World

A tendency of modern literature is to claim, “We must love one another or die,” or “be true to one another,” or “only connect.” Sweet as such sentiments may be, they give up on the world and imply that the best way to live in it is to hide from it in one another’s embrace. Instead, you must love the… Read more →

We Need More of This Sort of Fiction

On the other hand, mountains of unspeakable books, paintings, symphonies, and so on, have been dumped on long-suffering humanity in recent years because mediocre critics have wrongly claimed for them astute perceptions of the problems of, for instance, blacks and women. One might suppose such a vogue would at least help true art on the same subjects; but not so.… Read more →

Art Finds Meaning on the Way

Art is as original and important as it is precisely because it does not start out with clear knowledge of what it means to say. Out of the artist’s imagination, as out of nature’s inexhaustable well, pours one thing after another. The artist composes, writes, or paints just as he dreams, seizing whatever swims close to his net. This, not… Read more →

Is There Barbeque Sauce With That?

To put all this in the form of another traditional metaphor, aesthetic styles–patterns for communicating feeling and thought–become dull with use, like carving knives, and since dullness is the chief enemy of art, each generation of artists must find new ways of slicing the fat off reality. – John Gardener, On Moral Fiction, p. 10. Read more →

Fiction Makes You Smarter

Part of the problem is that, even at its best, criticism–including the criticism set down by poets and novelists, composers, painters, sculptors, dancers, and photographers–is easier than authentic art to grasp and treat as immutable doctrine. Depending as it does on logic and scheme, on arguments well argued, criticism uses parts of the mind more readily available to us than… Read more →