adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reading and Writing

I finished off my reading of ‘Vanity Fair,’ — mentioned a couple posts back — and am still quite impressed with the novel. Right up there in the Top Ten, as far as I’m concerned. My review is at my Good Reads page:

What else is in Steve’s Top Ten List? That would take some thought... ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ for certain. I adore Tolkien’s prose style (and the story is pretty good too). Maybe Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises.’ Some would consider ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ to be his best but I find it plodding. Others? I must think upon it.

On the subject of Hemingway, here are two passages of his on writing:

"A few things I have found to be true. If you leave out important things or events that you know about, the story is strengthened. If you leave or skip something because you do not know it, the story will be worthless. The test of any story is how very good the stuff that you, not your editors, omit." (this is about the Iceberg Principle or theory of omission)

"No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in....I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea, a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things. The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true." (on ‘The Old Man and the Sea’)

Excellent advice, I would say. And, interestingly, Thackeray knew to do something of that sort in his novel. As breezy as it sometimes appears, there is much that goes unsaid, much that is only suggested, much that remains hidden, and a great deal that is ‘truer than true.’ I like that.

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