I had a great idea for a novel that didn’t work out. Do it. In fact, it usually does. The concept is not related to the character, or the idea, or the subject, but an idea: I thought of an “I” – a bad person, who did some criminal things – who appeared in the chapter first of the book then. departs, not only from the story but from his story, becoming the type of direct third-person POV that we are used to, forcing the reader to remember this “objective” story coming from a source. didn’t mean much, but twisted and wrong.
I thought this house might be fun to try to draw and maybe have something to say, at the bottom level of the genre, about the history of western literature. I would add that this idea is stolen in the same way Madame Bovary and the 1987 horror film The foster father, Terry O’Quinn and Shelley Hack, you should check it out.
In the end, I could not be as interested in the events that this man was telling as I was in the man himself, which is why I wrote the book (Ko Street, published today), rather than changing from that first-person account, is associated with a bitter end. But I have a busman’s critical sense of fiction that not only escapes the first/third person binary but works for a purpose specific to the story itself. Below are brief tributes to some of the authors who have considered (and completed) their own thought experiments, in search of what JM Coetzee calls the sign of greatness in writing. “deforming [their] in order to say what has not been said before.
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
One of the greatest techniques in the history of fiction: it opens first – in the voice of a childhood friend of Charles Bovary – then that scene, that scene, … Not only do the first-person characters disappear from the page, but the story itself slowly moves into a realm of things that this first-person narrator doesn’t have the world to see. It’s like a rocket’s first stage, the part that falls into the ocean after takeoff. It is important to point out that this type of psychological realism’s greatest work of all time has no real meaning. When the word “we” returns to the novel, it doesn’t mean “us” – it’s all of humanity. It’s like looking at the power of love and looking to turn a schoolboy into a god.
Alain Robbe-Grillet, Jealousy
From a strictly technical point of view, it is a very high concept: a first-person story in which the word “I” does not appear. The story of a Frenchman living in an unnamed desert, managing a banana plantation, who becomes suspicious of—it’s true—his wife is sleeping with a friend. of them. He does what one sometimes does in this situation – he looks at the “evidence” of every conversation, every character, every time, looking for irrefutable evidence. .
It becomes a machine of recursive knowledge, and, therefore, there is no other life on the page. We only know that he is there through visual details such as the fact that the table where his wife and her friend are having a pleasant conversation of three. Being able to pull this off is amazing, but what does it take? Jealousy in the realm of honor is the way of not walking on the side to stand, to think carefully about the suffering of the narrator. There’s a scene in the novel where he’s left alone (the other two go on a “business” trip at night where they’re about to start), and the way he goes that scene to the brink of insanity is unbearable.
William Maxwell, So long, see you tomorrow
What I love about Maxwell’s work is the way the Norman Rockwell-ish style of content is masked for its boldness. So long, see you tomorrow an autobiographical memoir about a traumatic event from her childhood, an unsolved mystery about a boy she dated and an unexplained death. Interspersed with the novel itself are passages describing her sessions with her Manhattan doctor, and her visit to the Museum of Modern Art. But that’s not the strange part. On the other hand, for about half of the story, only the first narrator give away, and announced that, from then on, he would correct the story by making up all the details he could not see. Then he did it. The first paragraph after this announcement is in the mind of a dog. It couldn’t be otherwise, but it’s going down like a suit because we’re reading a story about a boy who lived on a beautiful farm in the Midwest a hundred years ago.
Ibolo Mbue, We are beautiful
There are some great stories told in the first person (Julie Otsuka, Joshua Ferris); One of the funniest things about Imbolo Mbue’s story of empowerment and social injustice is that it puts that kind of work into a story where the old man lives together. , and a third man with him. The chapters told by the young people of the fictional village of Kosawa show the unity of those people by giving them this series of stories. It does not fit the other characters in the novel, whose characters are fully formed and idiosyncratic, so they do not have – consistency, as Emerson said, the hobgoblin of ideas a little. This is just one of Mbue’s examples of rethinking the traditional “social story” wall of technology or history.
Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “Into a Forest”
Now inspired by one of the many films it inspired—Akiro Kurosawa’s “Rashomon”—this 1922 short story about the effects of torture and murder is a masterpiece. Seven short episodes, all of them in narrative form—and even in the first three, the subject is a police officer, that house (a la Madame Bovary) just kind of disappear. The last part – “revelation” from the killer himself, given (we are told) through a character – seems to stop the search for the truth, but it is not. The afterlife cannot resolve the limitations of our prehuman experience. It’s a long way from the clear vision of the 19th century European titans, whose self-proclaimed status as demigods of empathy now seems like a kind of magic to avoid what Akutagawa saw: the The purpose of man is the knowledge of the desire to understand. something is unclear.
Angelise Chen, There are many Olympic efforts
There are two sides to the coin of autofiction. The easiest, and often correct, way to read it is as a form of epic assertion of ego; I mean, write My Struggle, you have to be really interested in yourself. But another way to look at it is as a technical expression of a low current: my life is all I have. be able to I mean, that’s all I have to think about and try to replicate, is that the idea that artists, by virtue of being artists, have some kind of special authority or special license is symbol of historical pride. There’s nothing about Chen’s Bartleby thinking like the American theme of abandonment, like some of these titles; about worldview. I say to myself now, it is very bad, but it reminds me again that the success of the story depends, paradoxically, on the restoration of our faith in the powers that be. super-human of historians.
Ko Street by Jonathan Dee from Grove Atlantic