Wednesday, November 20, 2013

subject to interpretation

From the Codex Seraphinianus (via yeeeeeee)

“What is literary style and why is it bound to change as the novel rapidly goes global?
     'Style is the transformation the writer imposes on reality,' Proust tells us. We know what he means, perhaps, but the claim hardly helps us describe how a style is created or how it achieves its effects. In fact I can think of no adequate definition of style, if only because it is always diffuse throughout a text. It cannot be pinned down or wrapped up. All the same, we know at once when style is present, especially when it is extreme. […]
     Style, then, involves a meeting between arrangements inside the prose and expectations outside it. You can’t have a strong style without a community of readers able to recognize and appreciate its departures from the common usages they know. Much of what is surprising in Green’s text is inevitably lost in translation, in a language, for example, with different rules of deixis; some is lost simply by shifting the book across the Atlantic.
     What I’m getting at is that style is predicated on a strict relation to a specific readership and the more that readership is diluted or extended, particularly if it includes foreign-language readers, the more difficult it is for a text of any stylistic density to be successful. In the past, a work of literature would establish a reputation in its culture of origin, first among critics who were presumably equipped to appreciate it, then among the larger public; only later, sometimes many years later, would it perhaps be translated by those cosmopolitan literati who wished to make it known in another country.”
— Tim Parks, NYR blog
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