Present Palpable Intimate

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.


septembermom said...

I can see how a feeling of intimacy can overtake a reader when faced with a text full of immediacy and rawness. When achieved, the novelist or poet has truly created a human bridge with the reader.

This post reminds me to pull out my Iris Murdoch novels tonight. For me, she gets me to that point of intimacy and vulnerability almost line by line. I like when reading pulls me to ITS present and I can't look away.

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

Love that photo! It would make a great blog header, I think ....

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