"We need the novel because paradise is always a lie"
October 18, 2017 10:21 AM   Subscribe

the novel matters because it's fiction, and fiction, like truth, profoundly matters to the human species. In the age of Trump, when truth is so blatantly revealed as something dismissible, somehow simply no longer relevant, the novel matters even more, because to some extent we all live by fictions, we have all along survived by using them.
The novel in the age of Trump by Ali Smith.
posted by Kattullus (14 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
I find myself reading lots of fantasy novels and playing video-games to escape this reality. We're in the worst time-line and it's how I practice good mental health and self-care.
posted by Fizz at 10:22 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]


Jane Austen, the first real revolutionary of the form

Excuse me, a guy named Cervantes would like a word with you.
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on October 18 [6 favorites]


The age of ...

Holocene Anthropocene Fuckwitocene

:-(
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:52 AM on October 18 [1 favorite]


I find myself reading lots of fantasy novels and playing video-games to escape this reality

"Fantasy IS escapism, but wait...why is this wrong? What are you escaping from, and where are you escaping to? Is the story opening windows or slamming doors? The British author G. K. Chesterton summarized the role of fantasy very well. He said its purpose was to take the everyday, commonplace world and lift it up and turn it around and show it to us from a different perspective, so that once again we see it for the first time and realize how marvelous it is. Fantasy-the ability to envisage this world in many different ways-is one of the skills that makes us human. " - Terry Pratchett


"Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." - Neil Gaiman via G.K. Chesterton
posted by nubs at 10:54 AM on October 18 [17 favorites]


> Jane Austen, the first real revolutionary of the form

Excuse me, a guy named Cervantes would like a word with you.


Murakasi Shikibu is sitting in the corner waiting for y'all to stop fighting over these two so she can play her ace.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:04 AM on October 18 [9 favorites]


Revolutionary of the form does not mean creator of the form.
posted by kyrademon at 12:23 PM on October 18 [1 favorite]


How much more revlolutionary can you get than to create a whole new art form?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Can't we all be friends? Murasaki Shikibu can be the precursor of the novel, Cervantes can be the creator and Austen can be the first revolutionary?
*ring ring*
Hello.
...
Ah, yes, Mr. Sterne. I understand.
...
Would you be happy to be the first digressionary of the novel?
...
Hold on, I have a call on the other line.
*click*
Hello.
...
Ah, yes, Madame de La Fayette, so you are the author of La Princesse de Clèves!
....
I understand that you do not feel at liberty to divulge that. But if you were, would you be happy to be the first undercover agent of the novel?
...
I understand that skulking about wouldn't be... hold on, I’ve got someone on the other line.
*click*
Hello.
...
Oh hello, Snorri Sturluson.
...
Technically, Murasaki Shikibu was writing two centuries before you, would you accept first European precursor of the novel?
...
Ah, you've got Petronius right there? No wonder it sounded like you were at a good party. Yes, put him on by all means...
That’s pretty much how I imagine Ali Smith's day was after the essay was published.
posted by Kattullus at 12:41 PM on October 18 [12 favorites]


"the novel matters" is the new "death of the novel"
posted by chavenet at 12:59 PM on October 18


Roger Bennett talked about this a bit with Mohsin Hamid on a recent Men in Blazers podcast.
posted by Aizkolari at 1:40 PM on October 18


Well, this isn't good. Chariton, you claim to have written Callirhoe "anywhere between 800 to 850 a.u.c," and you, Petronius, can only remember that you published the Satyricon during "the consulship of some guy named Proculus or Priscus or something," which is not as helpful as you seem to think.

Look, I can't declare a winner until we nail down exactly when in the 1st century your books came out. That's right: unless you give me something more definite, neither of you are going home with this commemorative plaque, this delicious Symphony bar, and this gift card for Jo-Ann Fabrics.
posted by Iridic at 2:03 PM on October 18 [7 favorites]


*infuriated to have been beaten to the pedantry!!!*

Oh, good, the paperback of her new novel has finally come out. I've been waiting.

I find some of Smith's work just a trifle...glib or lightweight sometimes, but then often very charming and imagination-stimulating.
posted by praemunire at 7:06 PM on October 18


I love Ali Smith.

Thank you for posting this, Katullus!
posted by kristi at 9:35 PM on October 18 [3 favorites]


Oh, good, the paperback of her new novel has finally come out. I've been waiting

It's very good--dreamy and affecting.
posted by thivaia at 5:31 AM on October 19


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