Friday, August 17, 2012

a skilful negligence

After the failures of the Pamela sequels, Richardson began to compose a new novel.[1]:73 It was not until early 1744 that the content of the plot was known, and this happened when he sent Aaron Hill two chapters to read.[1]:73 In particular, Richardson asked Hill if he could help shorten the chapters because Richardson was worried about the length of the novel.[1]:73 Hill refused, saying,
You have formed a style, as much your property as our respect for what you write is, where verbosity becomes a virtue; because, in pictures which you draw with such a skilful negligence, redundance but conveys resemblance; and to contract the strokes, would be to spoil the likeness.[1]:73–4
In July, Richardson sent Hill a complete "design" of the story, and asked Hill to try again, but Hill responded, "It is impossible, after the wonders you have shown in Pamela, to question your infallible success in this new, natural, attempt" and that "you must give me leave to be astonished, when you tell me that you have finished it already".[1]:74 However, the novel wasn't complete to Richardson's satisfaction until October 1746.[1]:74 Between 1744 and 1746, Richardson tried to find readers who could help him shorten the work, but his readers wanted to keep the work in its entirety.

From our friends at Wikipedia.  (Depending on your point of view, you may feel that Richardson was born too soon, or David Foster Wallace too late. I know very little of Michael Pietsch, but I feel he would be unlikely to tell an author that 'you have formed a style, as much your property as our respect for what you write is, where verbosity becomes a virtue.')

1 comment:

Mithridates said...

Karl Ove Knausgaard, the Norwegian sensation, seems to have gone back to the Richardsonian model. Or rather, more importantly, his publishers seem to have gone back to Aaron Hill's way of doing things. Knausgaard says that he was taught in his creative writing classes to take all the bad writing out. After ten years of doing this he got the idea to write badly, and fast, and every day, with virtually no story at all. He wrote about the banality of his life in excruciating detail, and he says was ashamed every day for three straight years because he was writing about his meaningless life. His Min Kamp clocked in at something like 5000 typewritten pages and was published in 6 volumes. Some Norwegian workplaces, I've read, have declared certain days "Knausgaard-free" because employees were wasting valuable work time discussing the book.

I just think it's amazing that a tremendous Norwegian book wasn't a crime novel. I think that you need to write at least one series of detective novels in order to be considered a Norwegian citizen.