By Dale Salwak (eds.)
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Additional info for A Passion for Books
A translation or a stage production of Chekhov that blurs the irony or exaggerates the sentimentality is simply mistaken; so is an excessively religiose interpretation of Kafka. Indeed, it is the critic's task to show us why the people who make these mistakes are mistaken. Well then, what about cases where we understand something in the book that the author himself simply doesn't understand, where coming a century or two later, we are several steps ahead of him? Some theme or some quirk of character that he takes for Casaubon's Syndrome, or Reader Rampant 41 granted as part of the human condition we see as conditioned by the assumptions of his time - assumptions about class or colonialism or gender, say.
The autobiographer, for his part, is imprisoned in his own egotism . In contrast with the other two, the novelist is a god, creating his man, making him breathe and walk. ' The narrator-author agrees, though with a few reservations, remarking elsewhere in the series, but again through the medium of his invented novelist Trapnell, that 'a writer writes what he is'. The successful novelist, in fact, creates a world which supplies a total fund of information about its creator. He cannot help writing 'what he is'.
Leavis. If exposed too rawly, it can offend, even shock. I once declared that I had read so much about Elizabeth Taylor that actually having an affair with her wouldn't add much. This bewildered the old friends whom I was talking to (quite bookish people themselves); for years afterwards, they referred to my declaration with a mixture of derision and disbelief. It is, I suppose the bookman's version of Plato's cave, lived experience a mere shadow-show against the eternal reality of books. I can still remember, at roughly the age I read Animal Farm, the first thrill of the thought that books lived longer than the people who had written them.
A Passion for Books by Dale Salwak (eds.)
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