Tuesday, June 29, 2010
James Wood, the critic, in his New Yorker appraisal (July 5, 2010) of David Mitchell ("The Floating Library: What can't the novelist David Mitchell do?") quotes Henry James:
"If Conrad's great master, Henry James, was right when he said that the novel should press down on "the present palpable intimate" (he used the triad to distinguish the role of the living novel from that of the historical novel), then Mitchell's new book...."
(read to find out)
The point for me, right now, is Present Palpable Intimate and whether or not it can be achieved in an historical novel. I believe it can, or at least, in my own work, I have fought for that. In Flow, in Dangerous Neighbors, in a work now in progress, the quest has been to scrub away the sepia, to make the then feel now, to make it essential and current.
That, in any case, has been the quest.