samedi 24 juillet 2010

John Barth, LETTERS, Normal, The Dalkey Archive Press, 1994 [1979]

[John Barth to A. B. Cook VI]

My work in progress, which is of a different character, accounts for this letter. It is itself to be composed of letters, in both senses of the word: an epistolary novel, the espistles to be arranged in an order yet to be devised (I'm just past half through the planning of it). I'm also past half through my biblical threescore-and-ten, which detail no doubt accounts for my second notion about the story: that it should echo its predecessors in my bibliography, while at the same time extending that bibliography and living its independent life. Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny in the womb, but the deliveredchild must breathe for itself; one's forties are the "product" of one's thirties, twenties, etc., as the present century is the product of those before it - but not merely the product. You see my point.
Thus I am hazarding, for various reasons, the famous limitations both of the Novel-in-Letters and of the Sequel, most fallible of genres. The letters will be from seven correspondents: one for each of my previous books (or their present-day descendants or counterparts, in the case of historical or fabulous works), plus one invented specifically for this work, plus - I blush to report, it goes so contrary to my literary principles - the Author, who had better be telling stories than chattering about them.
(p. 430-431)

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