Friday, February 18, 2005

David Lodge's Consciousness and the Novel

Found Maude Newton's posts {1 } { 2 } on David Lodge's book very useful. Been mulling this film-novel business for most of this year, trying to pick up my Grand Project.

Everything I have tried to write has been channelled through the film-maker's eye. This is easier to understand reading about Graham Greene. Perhaps no one trying to write a novel now can avoid seeing it cinematographically. Have been writing a piece on that very subject of the novel/film mind-flip: an overactive toddler of an essay at present, who will keep on dribbling his food down his front and throwing it down on the floor to make you pick it up.

Many of the Blits are talking about what's new. Really should be looking at some of this stuff, but feel more urge to write than read. Never going to read most of it now anyway. Seem to be taking old books off my shelves which were my post-graduate autodictactive education 30 years ago. A science degree is no education ! This time it is better: everything is so much clearer in my mind, let alone in the books. That's one of the joys of getting older: one's own thinking intermeshes so much more with that of the great minds, making the whole re-reading process quicker.

From Alain-Fournier, I have gone back to Stuart Hughes' Consciousness and Society: The reorientation of European Social Thought, 1890-1930, which covers Alain-Fournier, Gide, Proust, Mann, Hesse an Pirandello as a diversion into the imaginative writers from the "intellectual giants" Freud, Croce, Bergson, Jung, Sorel, et al.

Stuart Hughes

Hughes on JFK : A Most Unstuffy Man, The Nation, 14 December 1963.

Dipping into Hughes shows the connection between A-F and Peguy (so often mentioned by Robert Gibson in the Harrap Meaulnes) and his circle. Peguy, who was slightly older than A-F , died in similar circumstances to him right within a month of the outbreak of the First World War.

Lay awake last night, thinking how sad and miraculous that Meaulnes was published just in the nick of time. The French, apparently, are very keen on honouring writers such as these who die for their country. It can never fail to bring a sense of wonderment, and an odd tear to the eye, because you come to know so much about their lives and their thoughts from their notes and letters. A-F sister wrote two books on her brother, which I would love to read, but bet are only in French editions. Having read every dot and comma about how A-F wrote his book - for any aspiring writer, a confidence builder, consoler and motivator - it makes it fifty times more poignant, especially since he died so very young and must have many more books in him. The one advantage, perhaps, was not having the years to mull over the completed work, thinking he could do it better. John Fowles re-did part of the Magus many years later.

Not much time left to create my masterpiece! When you get to a certain age, there is not this diffuse, unformed life ahead with which you can play the sometimes pleasurable games of avoidance, procrastination and self-deception. Either you write and finish or you've run out of time.


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