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.