lundi 15 octobre 2012

Francis Scott Fitzgerald, "AUTHOR'S HOUSE", Esquire, Juillet 1936

Of course I must begin with an apology for writing about authors at all. In the days of the old Smart Set Mencken and Nathan had a rejection slip which notified the aspirant that they would not consider stories about painters, musicians and authors—perhaps because these classes are supposed to express themselves fully in their own work and are not a subject for portraiture. And having made the timorous bow I proceed with the portrait.

mardi 9 octobre 2012

Alison Lurie, REAL PEOPLE, New York, Henry Holt & Company, [1998], 1969, 163 pages.

Actually, it's not so much Heaven (which is intellectual and unimaginable) as a sort of Eden, where all practical problems and responsibilities have vanished.
p. 7

There's only one Illyria, and though it's a wonderful subject, mobody will ever write about it. Because if they do (as Caroline Kent has somehow made clear), they can never come back.
p. 9

At Illyria one becomes one's real self, the person one would be in a decent world.
p. 10

There's a special style of behavior there - everyone wipes his mouth more often and more tactfully, and takes smaller bites. Above all, there's a special type of conversation: a kind of formal jocularity, lighthearted but (in some hands at least) heavy-handed. I've never heard anything like it outside of Illyria, but I've read it in books - the humorous scenes in Edith Wharton, or early James. There are certain prescribed subjects: local history, geography, botany, and meteorology; and news (but not scandal) of former guests. The names of writers, artists, and musicians who have never been here aren't mentioned.
p. 11

Gerry's published work is as frank as any modern poet's, which of course is saying a good deal. When I heard him read at Trinity, I think he used every four-letter word there is; and nobody protested. But the social rules on obscenity have been reversed since I was in college. A writer can now print, or declaim in a public hall, lines he would hesitate to utter in ordinary society.
p. 13

At home, whatever happens or whomever I meet, a part of me always remains detached and even amused, observing it all. No matter how I feel, somewhere up in the back of my mind is the writer taking notes, remembering dialogue. (As Philip Roth is reported to have said once, "We're lucky: nothing truly bad can happen to us. It's all material.")
p. 20

This Eden isn't designed for human beings, though. Instead, we're all, temporarily, gods - busy creating.
p. 23

I realize who Charlie is now. (I thought he looked familiar yesterday, but decided he was only a familiar type.) He's C. Ryan Baxter, who wrote The Red Moon, that experimental novel about the American Revolution (with Marxist overtones) that won so many prizes just after the war. I suppose I thought, if I thought anything, that he must be dead. Instead he's here at Illyria, hiding from his ex-wife and other creditors. Leonard told me later, after the others had left, what's happened to him since 1950.
LEONARD: A couple of flops - trouble with the Senate Investigating Committee, compounded by the fact that Baxter's probably the most thick-headedly sincere political innocent who ever held a card, if ever he did hold a card. Writer's block... A bad drinking problem... A ruinous divorce, which left him owing more alimony per year than he can make in five now; but his wife was a stupid beautiful girl who convinced herself and the judge that Charlie had stopped writing bestsellers deliberately in order to impoverish her, and could start again any time he wanted to...
After that? Well, he's had jobs in little colleges... A few stories and poems in little magazines. He's got a couple of grants, but that was a while ago - foundations prefer writers on their way up.
Now he's on the wagon again, at least. He has this job here, free room and board for three months and a chance to pay off some of his debts - maybe finish the novel he's been working on for the last five years.
JANET: Do you think he will?
LEONARD: I don't know. I certainly hope so.
p. 26

That looks harmless written down, but it wasn't; it was coarse and dismissive.
Of course, it's been said before, though not in that tone of voice. What's occasionally meant (and sometimes also said) is that I look a little like pictures of Virginia Woolf - a less fine-drawn, less neurasthenic, middle-class American version. (Pictures of me, on the other hand, seldom catch any such resemblance, perhaps because the camera adds another ten pounds to the ten I must already have on her.) Somebody asked once if that was why I decided to become a writer. "Not at all," I replied indignantly. "Long before I even heard of V. W., I wanted to be a writer." Quite true, but so do a lot of young girls. And who can say it didn't influence me when I found out? Standing in the library stacks at Smith, with Daiches's biography open in my hand, feeling a deep sentimental shock of recognition...
When people in Westford say I look like a writer, though, my first reaction is to check my stockings for runs, my hands for (p. 29) ink -  because that's what they usually mean. They've seen, or imagined they've seen, some flaw in my disguise as the conservatively attractive, weel-dressed wife of an insurance executive. Which isn't a disguise anyhow, but half of the truth.
A lady writer. And why should I mind that, anyway? Do I mind being a writer? Or being a lady?
p. 28-29

It's remarkable really what diverse and naturally antagonistic types have lived together at Illyria for weeks and months as peaceably as the animals in an Edward Hicks painting: Norman Podhoretz and Ned Rorem; James Baldwin and Louise Bogan. Interesting too that Caroline has avoided publicity so successfully that one never reads or hears of the place. There is an odd mist over it, which one not only feels but sooner or later learns to exude. One wouldn't deny having been here if one were asked, but otherwise one just doesn't mention it to outsiders.
p. 38

Finished a first draft of the ghost story this morning. It's too short, only nine pages, but I think not bad. I've done in two days what would have taken weeks at home. And besides that, I feel calmer, happier, nicer - most of all, normal. Though I'm here because I'm a writer, paradoxically it's only here that I don't have to be "a writer." I can be an ordinary person again, not what I've been in Westford for the last six months: a sort of dangerous freak.
p. 39.     

dimanche 9 septembre 2012

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

I said, so speedily that admiration for myself almost overcame me: "You ought to write a travel book sometime, Gertrude - one about Peru. I'd like to see what you think about Peru." But this made me think, longingly, that I'd like for Peru to write a book about her: what would Peru think of Gertrude?
"I may, I may," answered Gertrude. "I don't know what I'll write about next. For a while I've been thinking..." She looked away from my face into my wife's, and away from my wife's into Sidney's, and away from Sidney's into the porter's. Then she said pensively, in an almost demure voice: "I've often thought of writing a book about a -" here, for the smallest part of a sceond, she hesitated - "about a writer."
Sidney, and my wife, and the porter looked at Gertrude all unmoved...

p. 267

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Her Guggenheim Fellowship had been renewed, and she had got a thousand-dollar advance for a travel book: she and Sidney (he had said to his employers, I have to go, Gertrude [254] is leaving; they had said, All right) were going to Peru or Chile or Ecuador - I forget which, the one where you can live like a prince on practically nothing. There Gertrude was going to write not a travel book - this wouldn't have surprised her publishers, they knew her - but the conclusion of her novel about Benton. She felt about each book, always: "This one is going to be different. This one will dot it!" About this one she didn't feel it, she knew it.

p. 253-254

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

For just as many Americans want art to be Life, so this American novelist want life to be Art, not seeing that many of the values - though not, perhaps, the final ones - of life and art are irreconcilable; so that her life looked coldly into the mirror that it held up to itself, and saw that it was full of quotations, of data and analysis and epigrams, of naked and shameful truths, of facts: it saw that it was a novel by Gertrude Johnson.

p. 214

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

"People just aren't interesting." She hadn't for many years even expected them to be. She knew what people are like, had known for so long that it was almost as if she had always known, and yet she still couldn't reconcile herself to the knowledge. If she had been allowed to pick one word for what people are, it would have been: irritating.

p. 208

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

But as a writer Gertrude had one fault more radical than the rest: she did not know - or rather, did not believe - what it was like to be a human being. She was one, intermittently, but while she wasn't she did not remember what it had felt to be one; and her worse self distrusted her better too thoroughly to give it much share, ever, in what she said or wrote. If she was superior to most people in her courage and independence, in her intelligence, in her reckless wit, in her extraordinary powers of observation, in her almost deictic memory, she was inferior to them in most human qualities; she had not yet arrived even at that elementary forbearance upon which human society is based.

p. 190

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Though Gertrude's grammar, syntax, and punctuation were perfectly orthodox, though her style made everything sound has if it had been dictated to her by the Spirit of Geometry, she was admired by the most experimental of writers, men who, since high school, had never so much as used a comma, except perhaps to put one after every word of a book of poems. But she was (and they felt this, even if they couddn't say it) as excessive as they: her excess was moral, spiritual, and cut far deeper into life than anything they had managed themselves.

p. 187

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

It always astonished me that people did not realize what she was doing: what could listening - in Gertrude - mean but a book? She listened only As A Novelist.

p. 131

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

It rather surprised me that Gertrude would talk to me about her book; and she was surprised, I could see. She believed in the saying, Never show a fool anything unfinished - believed in it so thoroughly that she felt an uneasy resentment at having to show anybody anything, finished or unfinished. In a more reasonable world she and Sidney could have read her book when it was done, given it the Pulitzer prize, and stored it away in a vault under the Library of Congress. She did not tell the people at Benton she was writing a book about them: it would make them nervous if they knew, she said to Sidney, and they wouldn't be able to behave as they normally do. For that matter, she didn't tell me - she just asked me questions about Benton. She asked me more questions than I knew there were; after a while we found that we had been talking to each other about the book, quite openly, for weeks.
This would not have hapened if I had been a novelist. Then I might have stolen Gertrude's ideas, might have looked at them with a colleague's bright awful eye. But I [94] was only a poet - that is to say, a maker of stone axes - and she felt a real pity for me because of it: what a shame that I hadn't lived back in the days when they used stone axes! And yet, why make them now? Every once in a while she would say to me, "Haven't you ever thought of writing a novel?" I would shake my head and say that my memory was too bad; later I would just say, "That again!" and laugh. She would laugh too, but it puzzled her; finally she dismissed it from her mind, saying to herself - as you do about someone who won't go on relief, or mind the doctor - "Well, he has only himself to blame!"

p. 93-94 

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

As she read, Sidney listened; as she wrote, Sidney waited to listen; and Homer himself never had a better listener than Sidney. But sometimes on week-days with no conferences, no muse, no Sidney, the bare apartment looked bare even to Gertrude, and she would think, staring out of the window into the grey day: "I wish I made enough from my writing so Sidney wouldn't have to work."

p. 74

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

She was a mousy woman till she smiled: her teeth bared themselves, counted, and their lips went over them. Her smile was, I think, all that people have called it: it was like a skull, like a stone-marten scarf, like catatonia, like the smile of the damned at Bamberg; the slogan of the company that manufactured it was "As False as Cressida"; torn animals were removed at sunset from that smile. And yet it was only a nervous grimace, her one attempt to establish an ephemeral rapport with her world: "One would have said her body thought," and her body had kinder thoughts than she. That skull's grin was no memento mori, but Gertrude's admission that she too had to live.

p. 65

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

She would have made the perfect naturalistic novelist, so far as memory is concerned - and that is very far - except that she got bored and wouldn't listen, and then had to make things up; the novelist's greatest temptation, Gertrude felt, is to create.

p. 47

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Gertrude Johnson could feel no real respect for, no real interest in, anybody who wasn't a writer. For her there were two species: writers and people; and the writers were really people, and the people weren't.

p. 22

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Gertrude thought Europe overrated, too; she voyaged there, voyaged back, and told her friends; they listened, awed, uneasy somehow. She had a wonderful theory that Europeans are mere children to us Americans, who are the oldest of men - why I once knew: because our political institutions are older, or because Europeans skipped some stage of their development, or because Gertrude was an American - I forget.

p. 9.

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

How can we expect novelists to be moral, when their trade forces them to treat every end they meet as no more than an imperfect means to a novel?

p. 8

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Gertrude was, as novelists say, "between novels."

p. 6

Randall Jarrell, PICTURES FROM AN INSTITUTION, New York, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1968 [1954], 277 pages

Gertrude Johnson was, of course, the novelist; she had come to Benton six and a half months ago, late in the fall, to replace a new teacher of creative writing who had proved unexpectedly unsatisfactory.

p. 4

lundi 27 août 2012

Norman Mailer, "The Notebook", ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, New York, Putnam, 1959, 493 pages.

"Why are you angry? Is it because you feel I didn't pay enough attention to you tonight? I'm sorry if I didn't. I didn't realize I didn't. I do love you."
"Oh, you love me; oh, you certainly do," the young lady said in a voice so heavy with sarcasm that she was almost weeping. "Perhaps I'd like to think so, but I know better." Her figure leaned toward his as they walked. "There's one thing I will tell you," she went on bitterly. "You hurt people more than the cruelest person in the world could. And why? I'll tell you why. It's because you never feel anything and you make believe that you do." She could see he was not listening, and she asked in exasperation, "What are you thinking about now?"
"Nothing. I'm listening to you, and I wish you weren't so upset."
Actually the writer had become quite uneasy. He had just thought of an idea to put into his notebook, and it made him anxious to think that if he did not remove his notebook from his vest pocket and jot down the thought, he was likely to forget it. He tried repeating the idea to himself several times to fix it in his memory, but this procedure was never certain.
"I'm upset," the young lady said. "Of course, I'm upset. Only a mummy isn't upset, only a mummy can always be reasonable and polite because they don't feel anything." If they had not been walking so quickly she would have stamped her foot. "What are you thinking about?"
"It's not important," he said. He was thinking that if he removed the notebook from his pocket, and held it in the palm of his hand, he might be able to scribble in it while they walked. Perhaps she would not notice.

p. 141 

Norman Mailer, "The Man Who Studied Yoga", ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, New York, Putnam, 1959, 493 pages.

But then he thinks of the novel he wants to write, and he is wide-awake again. Like the sleeping pill which fails to work and leaves one warped in an exaggeration of the ills which sought the drug, Sam passes through the promise of sex-emptied sleep, and is left with nervous loins, swollen jealousy of an act ten years dead, and sweating irritable resentment of the woman's body which hinders his limbs. He has wasted the day, he tells himself, he has wasted the day as he has wasted so many days of his life, and tomorrow in the office he will be no more than his ten fingers typing plot and words for Bramba the Venusian and Lee-Lee Deeds, Hllywood Star, while that huge work with which he has cheated himself, holding it before him as a covenant of his worth, that enormous novel which would lift him at a bound from the impasse in which he stiffles, whose dozens of [p. 172] characters would develop a vision of life in bountiful complexity, lies foundered, rotting on a beach of purposeless effort. Notes here, pages there, it sprawls through a formless wreck of incidental ideas and half-epîsodes, utterly withour shape. He has not even a hero for it.

p. 171-172.

Norman Mailer, "The Man Who Studied Yoga", ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, New York, Putnam, 1959, 493 pages.

Marvin asks Sam if he has given up on his novel, and Sam says, "Temporarily." He cannot find a form, he explains. He does not want to write a realistic novel, because reality is no longer realistic. "I don't know what it is," says Sam. "To tell you the truth, I think I'm kidding myself. I'll never finish this book. I just like to entertain the idea. I'll do someting good someday."

p. 167 

Norman Mailer, "The Man Who Studied Yoga", ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, New York, Putnam, 1959, 493 pages.

Sam, in his heart, thinks himself a rebel, and there are few rebels who do not claim an original mind.

p. 157

Norman Mailer, "The Man Who Studied Yoga", ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF, New York, Putnam, 1959, 493 pages.

May I state that I do not dislike Sam Slovoda; it is just that I am disappointed in him. He has tried too many things and never with a whole heart. He has wanted to be a serious novelist and now he merely indulges the ambition; he wished to be of consequence in the world, and has ended, temporarily perhaps, as an overworked writer of continuity for comic magazines.

p. 146

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

Her mouth curled again. "You can't love anybody, Mikey, for you're Narcissus, and the closer you come to the water the more you adore yourself until your nose touches, and then you're alone again."
I did not want to believe this. "It's true," I said, "but it's... it's not true. It's not all true."

p. 154

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

I shook my head. "It's hopeless."
"The period of revolutions is past, eh?" he asked. "To attempt to continue is merely catering to a myth?"
"I suppose so." The fog had thinned sufficiently for us to discern the darker bulk of skyscrapers against the night.
"And so you accept what you have here."
"I don't accept. I just recognize that we'll have no better. At least one's allowed a corner in which to write a book."
"For the moment."
"For the moment," I admitted.
"Of course the condition which allows you to write a book rests upon the continued exploitation of three quarters of the world, and the livind standard of a worker here depends on the Chinks and the black man missing a meal."
"It's no use," I said again.

p. 124

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

Guinevere poured me another cup of coffee. "Someone was telling me you're an anthor, Lovett," she said.
"He was mistaken."
She passed this by. "You know I been thinking there's a way you and me could make a lot of money," she said. "I got a story that's worth a million bucks."
"Well, then why don't you write it?"
"I can't. I can't write. I haven't got the patience. But here's my idea. I'll tell you the story, you write it, and we'll split the money. I swear. When I think of the hundreds of thousands of dollars thi book is worth, and it's all in my head."
She was not to be halted.

p. 61

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

When I came back to the room, I picked up my novel, and on an impulse reread everything I had written. I intended a large ambitious work about an immense institution never defined more exactly than that, and about the people who wandered through it. The book had a hero and a heroine, but they never met while they were in the institution. It was only when they escaped, each of them in separate ways and by separate methods, that they were capable of love and so could discover each other.
I had never stated it so baldly before, and as I put the novel down, the story seemed absurd and I was abysmally dejected.

p. 58

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

It was a big house and gave the impression of being an empty house. Downstairs there were ten names arranged in ten brackets next tom as many bells which did not ring, but a week could bo by and I would pass no one upon the stairs. I hardly cared. In the last months I had come to know fewer and fewer people, and by the time I quit the dormitory, for better or for worse I was very much alone. At first this did not matter. I began my novel, and for a few days, completely isolated, I made progress. Since I could assume that a sixable portion of my life had been spent in one barracks or another, a room for myself was more than a luxury. Temporarily I felt free and rather happy.

p. 19

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

The poorest strain in his [Dinsmore] writing had been the kind of superficial optimism prevalent during the war, which still lasted posthumously among the many playwrights and novelists whose lack of political sophistication was satisfied by dividing all phenomena into Dinsmore's categories.

p. 9-10

Norman Mailer, BARBARY SHORE, New York, Vintage, 1997, [1951], 312 pages.

I was driven with the ambition that I should be a writer, and I was grubbing quite appropriately for a grubstake. My project was to save five hundred dollars and then find an inexpensive room: calculated virually to the penny, I found that if the rent were less than five dollars a week, I would have enough money to live for six months and I could write my novel or at least begin it.

p. 7-8

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

In the past, American writer-heroes assumed an idealistic stance toward their craft, ostentatiously scorning popularity and wealth. Novels featuring writers by Howells, James, Norris, London and Farrell, to cite a few notable examples, condemned writing for the market place and renounces celebrity - the perceived threat to artistic integrity. Some spoke contemptuously of those who catered to popular tastes. James held it as a solemn truth that writers who whorshipped "the idols of the market" did so at the cost of their integrity and their art, and were likely to stray "the way dishonor lies." Frank Norris saw the writer's independence as his greatest achievement. Like other naturalists, he believed in Zola's creed that the writer, being the priest of "the high lesson of reality," should not be influenced or sponsored. More recently, James T. Farrell, though aware that a writer cannot control the social environment of literature and is often forced to become an artistic martyr, still claimed that whoever lets "a chance literary agent, a chance Hollywood producer, a chance publisher to violate his artistic honor with a fat contract," turns himself into "a wretched hack."

(p. 135)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

Characteristically, the writer-heroes of the past two decades, while declaring themselves repulsed by the deterioration of life in the United States, show an amasing aptitude to adjust to its manifest evils and conflicts. Their castigations of corruption, falsehood and intrigue provide an opportunity to explore the labyrinths of the postmodern psyche. They do not act so much as adversaries of the American order, but as more or less serious impersonators or manipulators of its deviant possibilities. They are not dissenters, but utlilizers and exploiters of dissension.

(p. 108)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

Solutions are rarely suggested, ideologies remain irrelevant. The approach is anecdotal rather than analytical, individual rather than representational, emotional rather than objective. Expressed frequently in a neurotic or exhibitionistic manner, defiance is finally a pose, a consciously flaunted and perversely audacious gesture of disobedience and anger.

(p. 101)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

These outbursts of uncontrolled anger reveal a deep-rooted resentment not only of what America has become but also of the writer's own sense of complicity.

(p. 99)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

The American writer has long been signalling, in personal notes and in fictional versions of his own life, that furtive, immobilizing forces of the community, the administrative system, or political atitudes intrude when he embarks on serious work, that he ends up isolated, exposed to frustration and artistic paralysis. In the "Custom-House" Hawthorne recalls that while a state employee he was overtaken by a "wretched numbness," a kind of intellectual "torpor," which threatened (but actually stimulated) his artistic growth. Melville's frustration over his loss of popular and critical acclaim after the publication of Moby Dick translated itself into a withdrawal of public life and a bitterly pessimistic vision of a writer in Pierre. But such discontent, patiently communicated within a literary means that was ultimately complicit with the culture it attempted to expose, is insignificant, merely a ripple, when compared with the mental estrangement and rage that occur in American fictions about writers - especially those of the 1970s and the 1980s.

(p. 98)   

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

Yet, Isadora reveals a sense of chronic vulnerability and guilt. Her dependence on men and faith in traditional values lead to intermittent urges to abandon art, to return to conventional female roles. She sees her life as a string of disappointments and indicates that a female writer is always suspended between a need to subordinate herself and to hurdle society's barriers, between wanting to be uniquely feminine and having to live a male concept of the artist, a role that, she is intelligent enough to realize, no longer exists.

(p. 97)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

Andre Parent [the protagonist of Paul Theroux's My Secret History] follows the self-justified macho tradition so emphatically written into American fiction by writers like Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, or Norman Mailer, the tradition of constructing crude pseudo-philosophical defenses against women, of treating them coldly, with a sense of detachment and reduced emotions, of seeing them as useful sex objects, or sycophantic admirers, but never as companions in creativity. [...]
Indeed, in the postwar novel the woman is no longer seen as muse.

(p. 93)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

They oscillate between the celebration of the creative self and self-mocking inquiry, between acting as manipulators of life and falling victim to their own imagination, between aiming, however ironically, at moral seriousness and mocking value systems.

(p. 71)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

In Mulligan Stew (1979), a novel that is a spectacularly self-conscious, ingenious and rich example of writing about writing, characters are angered when they realize they are part of a "grossly vulgar life" created for them by one Tony Lamont, an avant-garde novelist.

(p. 57)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

The author-hero has always been, by the very nature of the role he plays in the text, in conflict with the world in which he lives, or describes.

(p. 56)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

The 1960s is the time of superpower confrontations and political assassinations, of waging an unpopular war, of campus conflicts and racial tensions. American writers react to these developments. They denounce the government and the military, criticize the country's moral and cultural decadence, blame the media (especially television), for deceiving and numbing their audience. Tradition, history and culture in general are described as fictive, fraudulently shaped by debased language and self-serving, often discredited ideology. Consequently, radical experimentation occurs within the medium of fiction itself. The novel's conventional meaning and form are renounced as irrelevant, exhausted or dead. Writers attempt to renew the novel partly by parody and pastiche, by employing radical irony, self-consciousness and reflexivity, by blending high art and popular culture. Their major subject is now often the act of creation itself as well as the application of it to the redefining of traditional perception, history or morality.

(p. 41)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

Though accusatory, heroes are frequently inspired, or energized, by moral corruption, violence, terrorism or conspiracy.

(p. 13)

Krzysztof Andrzejcak, THE WRITER IN THE WRITING: AUTHOR AS HERO IN POSTWAR AMERICAN FICTION, Lodz, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Lódzkiego, 1996, 170 pages.

They claim, for example, they are unable to create, yet come forward with successful works. They deplore cultural depravity and deterioration, yet they are inspired by them. They complain there is no appreciative audience, yet long for and often gain market success. They distort images of themselves for the purpose of thwarting reader expectations, then they say exposure is painful.

(p. 11)

mardi 10 juillet 2012

William H. Gass, "Philosophy and the Form of Fiction", dans FICTION AND THE FIGURES OF LIFE, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1970, 288 pages

I don't merely mean those drearily predictable pieces about writers who are writing about what they are writing [...]

p. 24-25

mardi 3 juillet 2012

Ramsey Scott, "Anatomy of Surfaces: Mulligan Stew and the Political Fantasies of America's Literary Factions", dans THE REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY FICTION, vol. XXXI, été 2011, 215 pages.

[M]any well-educated Americans like to imagine their own history as the product of literary interventions - the Declaration of Independence, Uncle Tom's Cabin, How the Other Half Lives - while forgetting that human labor, and (quite literally) human sacrifice, produces the history into which literature must subsequently be read and absorbed.

p. 71

Mulligan Stew presents a cure for that dogged faith in literature as a reality-altering medium. It is not a work of "subversive" literature; its political importance lies precisely in its insistence upon literature as a cultural product devoid of any qualities that might otherwise be deemed "subversive." Mulligan Stew thus serves as a radical critique of the fantasies that govern left-wing politics in America, and more specifically, the fantasy of subversive writing that persists in American literary and academic circles.

p. 72

dimanche 22 avril 2012

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

The related themes of the divided self, art as compensation, and the principle of distance appear frequently in succeeding confessional novels. Most of the heroes are so self-absorbed that they have difficulty getting outside themselves and hence are naturally at odds with their environment.

p. 54

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

Here are certain familiar features of the artist-hero tradition: dissatisfaction with a domestic envoronment, estrangement from a philistine father, a conviction that art is a vocation superior to time and place, the discovery that you can't go home again, and withdrawal to a Happy Valley (or Ivory Tower or Great Good Place).

p. 22

samedi 21 avril 2012

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

In the portrait-of-the-artist novel the Sacred Fount theme is most often expressed in terms of the artist's relationship to women. In many artist-novels - James's Roderick Hudson, Flaubert's Sentimental Education and Gissing's New Grub Street, to name but three - the artist is destroyed as artist because of his submission to love. In othe novels, the artist feels that he cannot function without love. Hardy's The Well-Beloved, Wyndham Lewis's Tarr, Dresiser's The "Genius" and Norris's Vandover and the Brute are examples of novels in which the artist-hero must have romantic fulfillment to produce artistically. Although he may be destroyed bye the search for such fulfillment, he must go the Woman in order to create - just as a man can father children only through women - and his artistic power is dependent on the Sacred Fount.

p. 18 

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

Quest for self is the dominant theme of the artist-novel, and because the self is almost always in conflict with society, a closely related theme is the is the opposition of art to life. The artist-as-hero is usually therefore the artist-as-exile.

p. 6.

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

From the beginning of the genre in the late eighteenth century to the present time, the artist-hero is an easily recognized type. The person blessed (or cursed?) with "artistic temperament" is always sensitive, usually introverted and self-centered, often passive, and sometimes so capable of abstracting himself mentally from the world around him that he appears absentminded or "possessed."

p. 5.

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

If we keep in mind the fact that though the hero of an artist-novel may be a sculptor or a composer, as a self-portrait of his creator he is always a writer, it is apparent that "the artist" established in fiction is always a literary man. And if the novelist sometimes seems to be a different breed of person from the poet or the dramatist (try to imagine a lyric poem by Henry James!) then we must make a further qualification: the archetypal artist found in portrait-of-the-artist fiction is a more valid representation of the novelist type than of any other kind of writer.

p. VI (Preface)

Maurice Beebe, IVORY TOWERS AND SACRED FOUNTS; THE ARTIST AS HERO IN FICTION FROM GOETHE TO JOYCE, New York, New York University Press, 1964, 323 pages.

These are stories which tell how they came to be written; most are self-portraits of their creators. To discover what they have in common is to learn something about the nature of the artist in general. Therefore Ivory Towers and Sacred Founts is intended to be not only a critical history of a literary genre, but a study of the artistic temperament, the creative process, and the relationship of the artist to society.

p. V (Preface)

mardi 17 avril 2012

Thomas Wolfe, YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, New York, Perennial, 1989 [1940], 576 pages.

Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America — that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement. At any rate, that is how it seemed to young George Webber, who was never so assured of his purpose as when he was going somewhere on a train. And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt that he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.

p. 49.

Thomas Wolfe, YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, New York, Perennial, 1989 [1940], 576 pages.


George had called his novel, Home to Our Mountains, and in it he had packed everything he knew about his home town in Old Catawba and the people there. He had distilled every line of it out of his own experience of life. And, now that the issue was decided, he sometimes trembled when he thought that it would be only a matter of months before the whole world knew what he had written. He loathed the thought of giving pain to anyone, and that he might do so had never occurred to him till now. But now it was out of his hands, and he began to feel uneasy. Of course it was fiction, but it was made as all honest fiction must be, from the stuff of human life. Some people might recognize themselves, and be offended, and then what would he do? Would he have to go around in smoked glasses and false whiskers? He comforted himself with the hope that his characterisations were not so true as, in another mood, he liked to think they, were, and he thought that perhaps no one would notice anything.
Rodney’s Magazine, too, had become interested in the young author and was going to publish a story, a chapter from the book, in their next number. This news added immensely to his excitement. He was eager to see his name in print, and in the happy interval of expectancy he felt like a kind of universal Don Juan, for he literally loved everybody — his fellow instructors at the school, his drab students, the little shopkeepers in all the stores, even the nameless hordes that thronged the streets. Rodney’s, of course, was the greatest and the finest publishing house in all the world, and Foxhall Edwards was the greatest editor and the finest man that ever was. George had liked him instinctively from the first, and now, like an old and intimate friend, he was calling him Fox. George knew that Fox believed in him, and the editor’s faith and confidence, coming as it had come, at a time when George had given up all hope, restored his self-respect and charged him with energy for new work.
Already his next novel was begun and was beginning to take shape within him. He would soon have to get it out of him. He dreaded the prospect of buckling down in earnest to write it, for he knew the agony of it. It was like demoniacal possession, driving him with an alien force much greater than his own. While the fury of creation was upon him, it meant sixty cigarettes a day, twenty cups of coffee, meals snatched anyhow and anywhere and at whatever time of day or night he happened to remember he was hungry. It meant sleeplessness, and miles of walking to bring on the physical fatigue without which he could not sleep, then nightmares, nerves, and exhaustion in the morning. As he said to Fox:
“There are better ways to write a book, but this, God help me, is mine, and you’ll have to learn to put up with it.”
When Rodney’s Magazine came out with the story, George fully expected convulsions of the earth, falling meteors, suspension of traffic in the streets, and a general strike. But nothing happened. A few of his friends mentioned it, but that was all.

p. 21-23.

Thomas Wolfe, YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, New York, Perennial, 1989 [1940], 576 pages.


He had been back in New York only a few days when Lulu Scudder, the literary agent, telephoned him in great excitement. The publishing house of James Rodney & Co. was interested in his manuscript, and Foxhall Edwards, the distinguished editor of this great house, wanted to talk to him about it. Of course, you couldn’t tell about these things, but it was always a good idea to strike while the iron was hot. Could he go over right away to see Edwards?
As he made his way uptown George told himself that it was silly to be excited, that probably nothing would come of it. Hadn’t one publisher already turned the book down, saying that it was no novel? That publisher had even written —— and the words of his rejection had seared themselves in. George’s brain —“The novel form is not adapted to such talents, as you have.” And it was still the same manuscript. Not a line of it had been changed, not a word cut, in spite of hints from Esther and Miss Scudder that it was too long for any publisher to handle. He had stubbornly refused to alter it, insisting that it would have to be printed as it was or not at all. And he had left the manuscript with Miss Scudder and gone away to Europe, convinced that her efforts to find a publisher would prove futile.
All the time he was abroad it had nauseated him to think of his manuscript, of the years of work and sleepless nights, he had put into it, and of the high hopes that bad sustained him through it; and he had tried, not to think of it, convinced now that it was no good, that he himself was no good, and that all his hot ambitions and his dreams of fame were the vapourings of a shoddy aesthete without talent. In this, he told himself, he was just like most of the other piddling instructors at the School for Utility Cultures, from which he had fled, and to which he would return to resume his classes in English composition when his leave of absence expired. They talked for ever about the great books they were writing, or were going to write, because, like him, they needed so desperately to find some avenue of escape from the dreary round of teaching, reading themes, grading papers, and trying to strike a spark in minds that had no flint in them. He had stayed in Europe almost nine months, and no word had come from Miss Scudder, so he had felt confirmed in all his darkest forebodings.
But now she said the Rodney people were interested. Well, they had taken their time about it. And what did “interested” mean? Very likely they would tell him they had detected in the book some slight traces of a talent which, with careful nursing, could be schooled to produce, in time, a publishable book. He had heard that publishers sometimes had a weather eye for this sort of thing and that they would often string an aspiring author along for years, giving him just the necessary degree, of encouragement to keep him from abandoning hope altogether and to make him think that they had faith in his great future if only he would go on writing book after rejected book until he “found himself”. Well, he’d show them that he was not their fool! Not by so much as a flicker of an eyelash would he betray his disappointment, and he would commit himself to nothing!

p. 18-19

Thomas Wolfe, YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, New York, Perennial, 1989 [1940], 576 pages.

From his early childhood, when he was living like an orphan with his Joyner relatives back in Libya Hill, he had dreamed that one day he would go to New York and there find love and fame and fortune. For several years New York had been the place that he called home, and love was his already; and now he felt, with the assurance of deep conviction, that the time for fame and fortune was at hand.

p. 18. 

mardi 27 mars 2012

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

April 18 1912

Heretofore I have been regarding my newspaper work more or less as a steppingstone to something else. I have considered it preparation for my real lifework of writing truly important novels. Now I am wondering if I have not made a mistake. Nothing could be more important than being a really competent newspaper executive. It is the daily press, after all, which influences public thoughts. A paper like the Tribune, for instance, with nearly 200,000 circulation may be read by half a million people daily. How many novelists can hope for an audience like that?
Besides, the newspaperman is dealing with living things, with reality. And the novelist usually is dealing with mere fragments of his imagination and not burning questions of the day.
Someday in the distant future I shall write a book or several books. But now I shall devote my energies to making myself the best possible newspaperman. I shall endeavor to be the best telegraph editor the Tribune ever had. I shall set my immediate goal at the news editor's desk. Then I shall hope to become managing editor and finally publisher.
High newspaper executives make fine money. I know I have it in me to become a high executive. I shall be able to save a good deal of money, live comfortably, give Byron a good college education. Then, by investing my savings judiciously in first mortgages and gilt-edge securities, I shall be able to retire when I am in my early fifties and devote myself to literature.

p. 144

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

March 7 1909

Le scénario du roman à venir:

The love story, or rather the love stories, in my novel will be only incidental to the theme.
Tentatively, I plan to call it "Restless Dynasty." And, likewise, tentatively, I plan to start it shortly after the War of 1812 in the Lake Champlain region.
There is a young man...

Voir p. 86-88

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

À propos du Great American Novel:

July 10 1907

As yet no author has preserved on paper the drama of this great midwestern country, the hurly-burly energy of the builders who caught the vision os Senator Thomas Hart Benton, the prophet who nearly a century ago stood on a bluff overlooking the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers and predicted that here one of America's greatest industrial and commercial communities would be build.
I can see the possibilities of a novel written alone on the history of this district. There would be the movement of the pionners westward in wagon trains. There would be the first steamboats chuffing up the broad Missouri and coming to grief on sand bars and snags. There would be the turbulent times before and during the Civil War with John Brown and Osawatomie. There would be the Red Legs and the Jayhawks and the battle of Westport Landing. There would be Jesse and Frank James. There would be the indomitable courage of the city builders, cutting down the hills and filling the valleys. There would be the increasing movement of the long trains across the great plains, bringing cattle and sheep and grain to the growing clearinghouse which must feed a nation. The swelling symphony of all these could be woven into a fine story. But, as I feel now, this is only a part of my story.
I want my novel to be all-inclusive. I want my novel to be America. I want it to hold the high purpose and sufferings of the Pilgrim fathers. I want it to hold the romance of the Spanish conquistadores and of the French padres who plunged through the terrors of an unknown land for king and church.
I want it to picture the pushing westward from the eastern seabord of the adventurous souls who sought to build an empire in the wilderness. I want it to hold the California gold rush and the bones of pioneers bleaching on the desert. I want in it the building of the railroads. I want to picture the drama of the cattle kings and the cowboys as drawn by Owen Wister. I want the gold miners and the venturesome farmers and the growth of the iniquitous trusts which treatens destruction of the founding father's work. And I want to write of the final dissolution of this last and most potent menace, which, I hope, will come soon with the election of Mr. Bryan next year.
On the surface this all appears to be too ambitious a program for one man. Certainly it would be too broad a canvas for me to paint now.

p. 64-65

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

Life often is stark and ugly. I feel, somehow, that there is a tremendous dram in a case like this. But, of course, the real story cannot be written. The implication would be left that the woman still would be alive had she given in to the man's importunities. And literature worthy of the name must have a wholesome moral. Its purpose is to make the world better.
Suppose a novelist were acquainted with conditions among the mining people of Altoona, Pa., and with the customs of Polish-Americans. Suppose he set out to write the story of a woman like Mrs. Francisca Skrocka, relating her early childhood and the minor family climaxes, and her dreams and hopes and finally the love story of Francisca and Stanley Skrocka.
That much would be all right. But I doubt if the novel would be especially significant or even very interesting. The real drama enters with John Korycinski and it could not be written. If a novelist were so uncouth and possessed of so little moral sense that he should write of illicit love, his book would be barred from the public libraries and he would be ostracized by society.

p. 28

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

It all seemed somewhat silly. To me it seems that building more and more battleships is like putting a chip on your shoulder and daring somebody to knock it off. The nations of the world are growing to understand one another. Education is dissipating the old fog of international distrust and jealousy. Christianity is preading. I am convinced there nver will be another war of consequence.
People are learning how insane war is. I really don't believe the young men of the world could be induced to enlist for a war in these modern times. And they couldn't have a war without soldiers.

p. 24 

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

Sur l'obligation de connaître "la vie" avant d'écrire:

May 12-June 2 1906

"After all, Homer," she said, "you want to be a writer and you'll never do anything about it as long as you're a streetcar conductor."
I had dropped by her house in the evening on my way to work. We were sitting on her front steps, me with my conductor's cap on the back of my headand my lunch pail between my knees.
"Well, I'm learning something of life," I said.
"Yes," she argued, "but the world from a streetcar isn't such a big place. And you won't learn to write about it when you're working twelve hours a day as a conductor. You won't have a chance.

p. 12.

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

May 12-June 2 1906

My ambition to become a novelist no longer is a vague thing. It is very real. I am directing my thoughts and my reading to the purpose of preparing myself for that career and that is my reason for writing this record.
I shall keep here my thoughts and experiences and impressions and reactions for later use, for, after all, any good novel I think ia merely the distillation of the author's own experiences. I have found that when interesting and even exciting experiences heap themselves upon one, day by day, one is inclined to lose the true flavor of minor incidents stored away in his memory. Each new adventure and each new impression tends to lessen the sharpness of earlier memories. Therefore, I must put incidents down in black and white at their true value before they become tarnished by time.
I now have a splendid opportunity to study and to learn life. I have analysed myself carefully and I know my weaknesses and I know my strenghts. I know I have no head for business, but I feel certain I have a certain facility for writing which will develop as I grow more experienced with the tools of my trade and I know I am more observing than most men and probably more sensitive to impressions. I have a sympathy for people and an ability for putting myself in the other fellow's shoes and I also believe I sense the dramatic possibilities of a situation.

p. 9

Clyde Brion Davis, THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL--, New York, Farrar & Rinehart, 1938, 309 pages

À propos de devenir romancier en passant par le journalisme: 

May 12-June 2 1906

Most important, though, was the fact I had read that many of the most famous novelists had been journalists. For years I had been more or less of a book worm. From the time I was a little boy I had made a practice of wlaking from our home on Peach Street in the "Fruit Belt" down to the big browstone library in Lafayette Square after books. And by the time I was 13 or 14 I had a vague ambition to write books and stories myself someday.

p. 8

lundi 6 février 2012

Lewis P. Simpson, THE MAN OF LETTERS IN NEW ENGLAND AND THE SOUTH; ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE LITERARY VOCATION IN AMERICA, Bâton Rouge, Louisiana State Univeristy Press, 1973, 255 pages

Howells autobiographical impulse of the 1890s had strong motivation in the deeply personal question of the identity of his vocation. After a lifetime as a writer, he found himself still searching for the meaning of his career. What does it mean to be a writer in America? The meaning he found in Boston, one which fulfilled his youthful dream of vocation, he could never fully accept nor wholly reject.

p. 116

Lewis P. Simpson, THE MAN OF LETTERS IN NEW ENGLAND AND THE SOUTH; ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE LITERARY VOCATION IN AMERICA, Bâton Rouge, Louisiana State Univeristy Press, 1973, 255 pages

The atitude toward the literary vocation in America in Literary Friends and Acquaintance, composed in part while Howells was writing The World of Chance and A Traveler from Altruria, is related to the ironic representation of American literary life in the novels.

p. 108

Lewis P. Simpson, THE MAN OF LETTERS IN NEW ENGLAND AND THE SOUTH; ESSAYS ON THE HISTORY OF THE LITERARY VOCATION IN AMERICA, Bâton Rouge, Louisiana State Univeristy Press, 1973, 255 pages

[Howells] can consider the existential condition of the writer only by reference to his vision of an ideal situation. Finding it more and more difficult to envision the ideal through the fog of the actual, he comes close in "The Man of Letters as a Man of Business" to suggesting the mood of alienation.
His inability to idealize the literary life in America in the face of his perception of the materialistic forces overwhelming it becomes manifest in three novels of the 1890s: A Hazard of New Fortunes, The World of Chance, and A Traveler from Altruria. Each of these stories develops the incapacity of the man of letters in the late nineteenth-century American society to relate himself to a fulfilling concept of vocation.

p. 105