Monday, September 03, 2007

Literature as experience

"How can you write about life if you haven't even lived it?" asks Joseph Ridgwell.

Rather, how can you begin to write if life hasn't failed?

Writing is not about life. Writing is about the experience of distance from life, the stuff of anecdotes. In that way, writing is life.


  1. Though the piece gets off to a bad start for me when he includes Knut Hamsun in saying
    "The later work of all these writers is undeniably superior as it is more rounded and contains greater emotional depth."

    I think Hamsun's work, Mysteries, from his earlier part of his career is a greater work of art than his later works, fine as they are, like The Wayfarers & Growth of the Soil. These are more rounded works but lack the spiritual edginess of a work like Mysteries. Nietzsche wrote that he wised to read only books written in blood, & for me there is more of Hamsun's blood in Mysteries & other early works...which is perhaps in favour of Ridgewell's argument though without his having noticed...Hamsun was perhaps more dangerously alive in this early period rather than in the later "more rounded" & perhaps more personally complacent period.

  2. Anonymous11:56 am

    Sopt on!

    Although I think Mr Ridgwell's piece works if you read it as an attack on the current state of contemporary publishing.

    Lee Rourke.

  3. Anonymous11:30 pm

    The red badge of courage is a hunk of useless shit

    joe ridgwell

    Although I have to say Hunger is Hamsun's best book by far.

    Growth of the soil, tedium personified

  4. Anonymous4:07 pm

    Hunger, Mysteries, Victoria, and Pan, all written before the turn of the century, are incontrovertibly Hamsun's best works. But he was thirty-one when he published Hunger, and older still when the others were written.



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