I agree with Philip Pullman on something…

“I’m sorry that we, as a literary culture, seem to be losing faith in the omniscient narrator. People say, “Oh, I need to know who’s telling the story, otherwise I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know whether to believe it at all.” And another thing we see more and more of is the bloody present tense. I hate books written in the present tense! I refuse to read them. Actually, no, I don’t refuse to read them, because there have been some very fine books written in the present tense, and by design I might have used the present tense. But I think it’s kind of an abdication of narrative responsibility, because we know it’s not happening now, and she’s not coming downstairs now and looking out the window now. It’s already happened! It’s been written about and printed!

This pretense that it’s happening now is a silly thing which I can’t abide, and I use every opportunity to bore people to death by telling them about it.

Oh, I’m perfectly happy to be at the vulgar end. I’m with G. K. Chesterton on this. He said that literature was a luxury but fiction was a necessity. We can’t live without fiction, and I’m very happy to supply the thing that we can’t live without. If that puts me in the company of Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson and Lee Child, I don’t mind a bit.”


“…it was a sign that the creative spark was fading.”

We should try to keep the different meanings of ‘classical’ distinct, but they easily bleed into one another. It should be clear from this book that plenty of ancient literature is ‘romantic’, in any of the senses of another elusive word. At the end of a survey of classical antiquity we may also be sturck by how original are all its greatest writers. This is worth stressing, as the idea is around that the ancients were not so much concerned with originality. it is commonly said that these authors were keenly conscious of the genres in which they worked, and of the rules or at least the expectations that each genre brought with it. There is a kernel of truth in this, but the ‘rules’ of genre should be understood as a description of those ways of writing which authors found congenial and rewarding, not as a set of pre-existent commands that authors felt obliged to obey. (One might compare a modern genre, the Hollywood epic, which has some familiar rules or conventions, but only because some cultural authority has imposed them.) Whenever rules hardened into commands (and this did happen sometimes in antiquity), it was a sign that the creative spark was fading. As we have seen, Latin literature as a whole was secondary, written under the shadow of Greece, but the best Latin writers are the ones who found ways of being original despite this.

And these are the truths that the great spirits of later centuries understood. Shakespeare and Milton, the architects of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, Titian and Tintoretto did not find that their classical sources inhibited them; rather, they stimulated our parents, and on the whole they have been good parents. The healthy fledgling quits the nest, and it is among the achievements of the best ancient authors that, properly appreciated, they have enabled us to fly free.”

-Richard Jenkyns, Classical Literature. 



No narcissism here. Nope.

Chekov, on why over half our novel takes place in an apartment:

In real life people don’t spend every minute shooting each other, hanging themselves and making confessions of love. They don’t spend all the time saying clever things. They’re more occupied with eating, drinking, flirting and talking stupidities – and these are the things which ought to be shown on the stage. A play should be written in which people arrive, go away, have dinner, talk about the weather and play cards. Life must be exactly as it is, and people as they are – not on stilts… Let everything on the stage be just as complicated, and at the same time just as simple, as it is in life. People eat their dinner, just eat their dinner, and all the time their happiness is being established or their lives are being broken up.

Granted, there is a shooting, hanging, and confession of love in THE AUTOMATION. But it’s not every minute.

BLA wanted me to point out that you can be just as stranded in an apartment as you can at sea. Hashtag, Odysseus.