Tag Archives: doublets

The Relative Nature of Criticism

“Admitting the vagueness which afflicts all criticism of novels, let us hazard the opinion that for us at this moment the form of fiction most in vogue more often misses than secures the thing we seek. Whether we call it life or spirit, truth or reality, this, the essential thing, has moved off, or on, and refuses to be contained any longer in such ill-fitting vestments as we provide.”

Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” In The Common Reader, 149. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, 1925.

The problem with categorizing fiction into forms is the same problem of criticism in general, being that the opinion stated is strongly affected by the setting in which it is being stated in. These classifications are best done in retrospect, as you cannot affect a literary movement if it has already happened.

Barnes on the miracle of birth

sample commonplace entry

Amid loud and frantic cries of affirmation and despair Robin was delivered. Shuddering in the double pains of birth and fury, cursing like a sailor, she rose up on her elbow in her bloody gown, looking about her in the bed as if she had lost something. “Oh, for Christ’s sake, for Christ’s sake!” she kept crying like a child who has walked into the commencement of a horror.

Djuna Barnes, Nightwood (New York: New Directions, 1937), 52.

Birth is extremely unpleasant in this book (except in Doctor O’Connor’s imagination…) Notable Barnes effects: the doublets (“loud and frantic”) and the role-reversals (the mother is “like a child”).