Thursday, December 15, 2005

The More Things Change...

After reading so many slipshod diaries called "novels," what a pleasure it is to turn the pages of this consummate work of art. The common method today of writing a novel is to begin with the birth of the hero, shove in all experiences that the author can remember of his own childhood, most of which are of no interest to any one but himself, take him to school, throw in more experiences, introduce him to the heroine, more experiences, quit when the book seems long enough, and write the whole biography in colloquial jargon.

William Lyon Phelps, reviewing Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence for The New York Times Book Review in 1920. Apart from Phelps' insistence on male protagonists and his blissful ignorance of just what exactly 'long enough' would come to mean over the next 85 years, this passage could apply today, or possibly at any point in the intervening decades.

(Shamelessly stolen from Maud Newton.)

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