Thursday, October 25, 2007

Literary village ...

.... Book reviews: Can you believe what you read? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I think people who like to read - and can write - are the best reviewers. But what struck me most about this piece was this: "What Sir Howard is belatedly stumbling upon is the essay topic of many a current English A-level student – that modern novels sacrifice plot for form and structure. If that is the case, it is literary trends that Sir Howard should be annoyed with, not reviewers, who have every right to take a contrary view to him on the supremacy of form over plot." There is a confusion here of plot and action. Plot, as the late Aristotle indicated, "is the soul of the drama." It is the form given to whatever action is recounted. When people complain about an absence of plot what they usually mean is that not a lot happens. Now a paucity of action can be a shortcoming, for sure, but it is not the same as an absence of plot, which would in fact amount to a lack of form or - more likely - faults of form.

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