Category Archives: Quotations

To describe the world . . .

To describe the world more fully is to change it. To let the world go undescribed is, in some way, not to know it, at one’s own peril. ~Elif Batumann

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A true work of fiction . . .

A true work of fiction does all of the following things, and does them elegantly, efficiently: it creates a vivid and continuous dream in the reader’s mind; it is implicitly philosophical; it fulfills or at least deals with all of … Continue reading

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What “Make It New” means . . .

Creole began to tell us what the blues are all about. They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to … Continue reading

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Crime fiction

Consider this description of mystery fiction from John Lanchester’s “The Case of Agatha Christie” in the London Review of Books. Her career amounts to a systematic exploration of formal devices and narrative structures, all through a genre with strictly defined rules … Continue reading

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The point of poetry

From Kenneth Koch and Kate Farrell’s Sleeping on the Wing: Suppose you want to get an experience into words so that it is permanently there, as it would be in a painting—so that every time you read what you wrote, you reexperienced … Continue reading

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Influence

Influence isn’t just a matter of copying someone or learning his or her tricks. You get influenced by writers whose work gives you hints about your own abilities and inclinations. Being influenced is largely a process of self-discovery. What you … Continue reading

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How do writers read?

Here are some of the first few pages of Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer. They describe our approach to this class (English 412R, Fall 2017).

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