Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Conflict Moves Life, Not Just the Plot

To catch up, read my prior post about conflict in writing and how important it is.

Someone in my writing group mentioned that we spend our lives trying to avoid conflict, and attempting to live a serene existence, and then as writers we really set the pot to boiling, and how different is the way we (most of us) want to live versus what we must put down on paper.

Of course, in the literary world there are notable exceptions such as Hemingway and Mailer and Fitzgerald and Hunter Thompson. Hmmm. These are all men. Maybe it is women who want the quieter life, like Virginia Wolfe and Emily Dickenson. I wonder if this would make a good topic for a Ph. D. thesis.

If so, take it forth, because I won't be writing any theses.

More of the party at Mme. Villeparisis: I'm beginning to think this whole volume about the Guermantes takes place there. The very conflicted Charlus appears at this party. We'll see much more of him later.

Here's a blogger with good intentions who hasn't quite made it that far into the novel yet. The mention of Proust's translator, Lydia Davis, caught my eye. The blogger doesn't like her book, and mentioned some male authors, and that got me going on the contemplative life versus the life of action.

In another blog, I'm forever telling readers to go forth into the world and look around. That's not the same thing as being engagé, the existential idea of being engaged in life. Are there any existentialists left? I never see any mention, but perhaps I read the wrong periodicals. Perhaps they still haunt left bank cafes.

What amazes me is that the scene at the party goes on for hundreds of pages. And that's also how novel ends, at another party, years later.

If you write, you understand how difficult it is to juggle party scenes, because the intermingling of many people is hard to convey, and it's easy to confuse the reader and botch up the scene. Three or four way conversations become impossible with attribution and focus. Proust does an excellent job--of conveying the party, not of botching the scene. My admiration for Proust increases the longer I write. What a master!

If you are a trifle Proust-challenged, and who isn't, here is a cool web site that can be your character guide. Who's Who in Proust. How cool is that?

Odette, the other one

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