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Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 7 February, 2021 09:21PM
I'm reading Susanna Clarke's short novel Piranesi. It has reminded me -- only a little in each case -- of Lovecraft's "Shadow Out of Time," MacDonald's Lilith, Lewis's Magician's Nephew (the Wood Between the Worlds), Peake's Gormenghast, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Borges, even very slightly Robinson Crusoe, &c. It isn't a horror novel, at least not so far, more like some kind of dream-dimension thing. My sense is that there are people here at ED who would like it and people who wouldn't, but I wouldn't be able to say who belongs to which category.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 8 February, 2021 04:40AM
Splendid book -- very different from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, but a splendid read nevertheless.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 8 February, 2021 05:58AM
I remember reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell while on holiday in Italy. A bunch of us had rented a tall, narrow old villa that had originally served as a hunting lodge - the surrounding countryside was teeming with boar. I read JSMN sitting at the top of a very steep flight of steps with just a funny-looking lizard for company (like a lot of European buildings, the main entrance was on the second floor; needless to say, everybody used the ground floor entrance, which led directly into the kitchen). To say the book was an immersive experience is putting it mildly; it was very long and beautifully written.

My experience of Piranesi was a bit more ambivalent. I enjoyed it but found it a bit thin overall - in terms of characterisation and plot-development - so I’d be curious to know what you make of it.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 07:55AM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I remember reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
> while on holiday in Italy. A bunch of us had
> rented a tall, narrow old villa that had
> originally served as a hunting lodge - the
> surrounding countryside was teeming with boar. I
> read JSMN sitting at the top of a very steep
> flight of steps with just a funny-looking lizard
> for company (like a lot of European buildings, the
> main entrance was on the second floor; needless to
> say, everybody used the ground floor entrance,
> which led directly into the kitchen). To say the
> book was an immersive experience is putting it
> mildly; it was very long and beautifully written.
>

Never heard of Susanna Clarke before. Not likely the kind of book I would wear out my eyes on. But your post inspired me to get the audio book, which appears to be exceptionally well narrated. What caught my curiosity about this book is the subtle approach to magic. Also called "magic realism" I understand? Another modern term I am not very familiar with. Perhaps some of Algernon Blackwood's spiritual nature work could be termed "magic realism"?

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 08:10AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Also called "Magic Realism" I
> understand? Another modern term I am not very
> familiar with.


Or, to quote Nemonymous:

"Magic Realism: A settled term: Fiction that creates fiction from reality, e.g. Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie.

Magic Fiction: I define this as Fiction that creates reality from fiction e.g. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Feb 21 | 08:35AM by Knygatin.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 08:33AM
Link: Nemonymous' discussion about Magic Realism.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 09:11AM
I've encounteered the term "magical realism", which is most frequently associated with Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude.

Is this the same, or is there a subtle difference?

Would Tin Drum fit into either category, or is it simply unreliable POV?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 12:31PM
My impression is that magic realism is a sub-genre of literary fiction; so you have a story very much rooted in reality, but with occasional, surreal touches. Even when there is a central, supernatural element it’s largely a literary conceit intended to reflect the book’s themes, nothing (ie, not ‘magic’ per se). That said, I don’t know if I’ve ever actually read any - unless Borges and Bolano count - South American Magic Realism was big around thirty years ago. So I’d classify The Tin Drum as magic realism (based on what I know about that novel).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Feb 21 | 12:31PM by Cathbad.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 01:25PM
Thinking on it more, A Winter's Tale is probably also magical realism.

An odd sub-genre. I think slipstream gets close to it, too, maybe enough to be considered a sub-sub-genre.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 01:42PM
I’d classify A Winter’s Tale as fantasy because it’s set in an imaginary, parallel New York. The world building is an end in itself, a defining principle of SF (in my humble opinion). I’d classify The Tin Drum as a work of literary fiction, because the mc’s refusal to age is really just a vehicle for Grass to examine Germany’s history through the lens of one character - ie, the goal is to scrutinise the real world rather than to create an imaginary one.

That said, I wouldn’t be prescriptive about it. Plus a lot of fiction doesn’t really fall into either category, but is an amalgam of both - e.g. I’d classify Aegypt as a work of speculative fiction, but it could just as easily be a work of literary fiction.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 01:56PM
Cathbad and anyone else -- thoughts on Crowley? I have only read, I guess, a novella called something like "The Slow Work of Time" (I think)< which didn't make that much of an impression on my hard shell. But I've thought he might be worth looking into.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 02:11PM
This is really interesting.

Tin Drum, being first person, can be attributed to unreliable POV--the refusal to age, the ability to break glass, the drumming, his "putative father", all of this is what the POV sees and tells us, and we can infer that almost none of this exists in actuality, and we're being given a Kashubian history lesson by an insane dwarf.

I mean, that's how I see it, usually.

So I've convinced myself: it's not magical realism.

Winter's Tale, I was unsure it's a parallel NYC, but I could be forgetting. Besides, I read it only once (was good for one go-around,only). I took it to be a fabulous NYC, what with watermen, Short Tails, magic horses, etc. All of these existed (except the horse, I assume) in some form in actuality. Gangs of New York was all about the sorts of gangs very much like the Short Tails. But not from a comic perspective.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. But give a man a boat,
a case of beer, and a few sticks of dynamite..." -- Sawfish

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 02:15PM
I never read Little, Big but re-read Aegypt again last year and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time I read it. There were three more books in the series, but opinions seem to be pretty mixed as to their merits. The Slow Work of Time is the one in which Cecil Rhodes is part of a secret society that keeps rejigging history to ensure the empire never falls, right? I read it in a collecton of Crowley's short stories a few years ago. I found it a bit underwhelming (like most of the stories in the collection) but would reckon Aegypt is worth checking out.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Feb 21 | 02:19PM by Cathbad.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 02:27PM
I guess intention is a big factor, Sawfish? Literary Fiction seems to be as much about the seriousness of the author’s intentions as it is about literary pyrotechnics. So The Tin Drum is a work of literary fiction because of its themes.

I should add that I think the critics sometimes get this wrong. The Secret History is basically a Stephen King storyline with a highly 'literary' delivery - ie, for all its pyrotechnics, the author’s intention is basically to entertain you rather than to make you think.

Re: The Super thread of literature, art, music, life, and the universe in general
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 9 February, 2021 02:42PM
The Secret History -- you mean the Donna Tartt novel?

I like The Little Friend best of her three novels, but found some enjoyment in them all.

Btw FWIW I once wrote a story, "Ladt Stanhope's Manuscript," that drew on the real Secret History -- Procopius's. There was a passage that allowed me to invent the akephaloi, the Headless Ones, in contrast to the asomatai, the Fleshless Ones, i.e. the holy angels. It was at least a fun story to read, with some nice "bits" more or less falling into a hand I happened to have open.

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