samedi 24 juillet 2010

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

[John Barth to Ambrose Mensch]

I have in mind a book lenght fiction, friend, more of a novel than not, perhaps even a sizable one. Having spent the mid-1960's fiddling happily with stories for electronic tapes and live voice - a little reorchestration of the oral narrative tradition - I'm inclined now to make the great leap forward again to Print: more particularly, to reorchestrates some early conventions of the Novel. Indeed (I blush to report) I am smitten with that earliest-exhausted of English novel-forms, the epistolary novel, already worked to death by the end of the 18th Century. Like yourself an honorary Doctor of Letters, I take it as among my fonctions to administer artificial resuscitation to the apparently dead.
It appeals to me to fancy that each of the several LETTERS correspondents, explicitly or otherwise, and whatever his/her response to the Author's sollicitations (like the foregoing), will contribute something essential to the project's plan or theme. So far, this has worked out pretty well. Never mind what your predecessors have come up with, and never mind that in a sense this "dialogue" is a monologue; that we capital-A Authors are ultimately, ineluctably, and forever talking to ourselves. If our corresponce is after all fiction, we like, we need that fiction: it makes our job less lonely.
(p. 654-655)

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