torstai 10. marraskuuta 2016

79. Kohti romaanin globaalihistoriaa

”It struck me that a fundamental misassumption about the purpose of fiction was at the heart of the problem. Make that purposes: fiction can be many things, but MPF (an abbreviation I’ll use from now on for ‘Myers, Beck, Franzen, and readers like them’) seemed to hold a very narrow view of fiction’s function, and a historically uninformed at that. Anyone who thinks linguistic extravagance in novels began with Ulysses in 1922 hasn’t done his homework. Mr. Peck, may I introduce Messrs. Petronius, Apuleios, Achilles Tatius, Subandhu, the anonymous Irish author of The Battle of Magh Rath, Alharizi, Fujiwara Teika, Gurgani, Nizami, Kakuichi, Colonna, Rabelais, Wu Chengen, Grange, Lyly, Sidney, Nashe, Suranna, the Scoffing Scholar of Lanling, Cervantes, López de Úbeda, Quevedo, Tung Yueh, Swift, Gracián, Cao Xueqin, Strene, Li Ruzhen, Melville, Lautréamont, Carroll, Meredith, Huysmans, Wilde, Rolfe, Firbank, Bely, et al? ‘The model for those who thought that high literature should be allusively obscure and complex,’ Robert Irwin suggests, is not Joyce but the 11th-century Arabic fictionist al-Hariri; a Sanskrit scholar would nominate the 7th-century novelist Bana for that distinction. Of López de Úbeda’s linguistically extravagant Justina (1605), critics have approvingly noted that ‘the work was written for the amusement of a cultured audience, a small minority of readers capable of deciphering the novel’s obscure allusions, leaving the less ingenious reader, of course, totally bewildered.’ Experts in other fields could offer other models, all predating Joyce for centuries.”

(Steven Moore: The Novel: An Alternative History. Beginnings to 1600. Continuum 2011, 2)

“The newfangled realistic novel popularized by Balzac in the 1830s peaked later in the 19th century and quickly lost its novelty in the hands of lesser talents. Yet it became rooted in the mind of the reading public as the form of the novel henceforth, marginalizing more inventive fictions. At that point, fiction-writing branched into two streams – bourgeois fiction for the masses and belletristic fiction for the elite – and, in one of life’s little ironies, the stream that deviated from the long tradition of innovation in fiction became the ‘main’ stream, while the other, older tradition became a misunderstood tributary. Instead of enjoying a brief fad and then losing favor, like the 18th-century epistolary novel, the realistic novel became thought of as the norm in fiction, instead of what it actually is: only one of the mutations in the evolution of the novel, and one less concerned with exploring new techniques and forms than with pleasing audiences and enriching authors and publishers.” (emt., 6-7)