All posts by NL

Commonplace #2

“…the modern, by definition is always new, and therefore open to the challenge, the only way in literary space to be truly modern is to contest the present as outmoded – to appeal to a still more present present, as yet unknown, which thus becomes the newest certified present” (91).

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 91.

This solidifies the properties of modern fiction that were discussed in class and how they bring about breaks with and within traditions. Modern is meant to challenge the old, presenting a new, refreshing piece of writing. It is something that is newer than the new, and “more present present”.

Good Novels v. Bad Novels

It must be admitted that good novels are somewhat compromised by bad ones, and that the field, at large, suffers discredit from overcrowding. I think, however, that this injury is only superficial, and that the superabundance of written fiction proves nothing against the principle itself. It has been vulgarised, like all other kinds of literature, like everything else, to-day, and it has proved more than some kinds accessible to vulgarisation. But there is as much difference as there ever was between a good novel and a bad one: the bad is swept, with all the daubed canvases and spoiled marble, into some unvisited limbo or infinite rubbish-yard, beneath the back-windows of the world, and the good subsists and emits its light and stimulates our desire for perfection.

James, Henry. “The Art of Fiction”. <>. Longman’s Magazine. September 1884.

The increased production of fiction has not affected the content of the writing. A good novel will still be recognized, while a bad novel will be “swept” or forgotten. James reveals that the genre of a novel will not matter, only the quality of its writing. Many other forms of writing have been “vulgarized” just as fiction has been, but there are still good novels that become acknowledged literary works.