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"...making this overabundance a bit more intelligible..."

In Context, Todd Hasak-Lowy gives a great explanation for why novels exist:

Readers from Korea to Brazil are searching for someone capable of positioning a few well-drawn individuals against that wide canvas of historical, political, social, and religious overabundance (also known as "the Conflict"), thereby making this overabundance a bit more intelligible. This is how the novel, as a genre, compensates for its fictional status, how it manages to constitute a form of knowledge despite never having happened: it takes the political and the historical and translates them into the personal and the biographical so that the individual reader can finally understand.

Illustrating a broad, otherwise overwhelming environment by focusing on a few small but clear-cut characters. I like that.

April 6, 2012 in Books | Permalink


I'd like to agree with this, and I do think it's valid, but the "understanding" will still only be that of one person, and it may not make sense to anyone else. Not without a lot of hard work and some insight. Still, the prospect of better understanding -- the possibility of it -- makes the effort of reading good fiction worthwhile.

Posted by: Paul at Apr 8, 2012 2:39:41 AM