uma crítica a James Wood

12 11 2008

Já comentei várias vezes aqui sobre minha admiração pelos textos de James Wood. Eu acho que ele escreve lindamente. Mais importante que isso, me mostra um tipo de leitura possível que eu não imaginava existir.

Wood consegue me convencer das razões para suas ranzinzices estéticas contra autores contemporâneos e me mostra o que admirar nos clássicos.

Mas eu confesso que não tenho tanta experiência assim com literatura. Alguém como Daniel Green, que é o autor do blog The Reading Experience, do qual eu falei dia desses, acha que James Wood não tem tanto assim a dizer sobre literatura.

Bom, Green também é um escritor convincente e de um estilo tão elegante e claro quanto Wood. De fato, alguns minutos no blog dele logo viram horas e quando você vê está viciado. Ele é muito claro na maneira como coloca seus argumentos (como Wood) e fica difícil não concordar com o que ele diz.

Eles concordam em algumas coisas, mas, de modo geral, Green parece ter mais restrições que elogios ao criticismo de Wood.

Green resenhou o livro de Wood que eu estou lendo “How Fiction Works”.

Um trecho:

But for those of us who think that Wood’s description of “how fiction works” is but one possible (and highly tendentious) description, that despite Wood’s occasional citation of a still-living writer and his lip service to the notion that the novel “always wriggles out of the rules thrown around it,” his account is mostly backward-looking, an examination of what has been done, rather than forward-looking, a discussion of fiction that emphasizes what still might be done. The message that “any kind of common reader” is likely to take from his book is that the art of fiction is now settled, all of the possible aesthetic innovations the form might offer already achieved. If you want to read the best that fiction has to offer, Wood’s book clearly enough implies, stick with the line of Anglo-European fiction extending from Henry James to Henry Green. If you want to be an esteemed writer, do what Dostoevsky does, what D.H. Lawrence does, what Virginia Woolf and Saul Bellow do.

E eu concordo com Green. Wood olha para o passado e praticamente nenhum autor vivo, escrevendo hoje, merece sua aprovação. Ele analisa uma arte “congelada no tempo” e como diz Green, nao admite qualquer espécie de evolução.

Outra passagem:

Ultimately the most disconcerting thing about How Fiction Works, and about James Wood’s criticism in general, is that while Wood on the one hand expresses near-reverence for the virtues of fiction, the terms in which he judges the value of fiction as a literary form implicitly disparages it. He doesn’t want to let fiction be fiction. Instead, he asks that it provide some combination of psychological analysis, metaphysics, and moral instruction, and assumes that novelists are in some way qualified to offer these services. He abjures them to avoid “aestheticism” (too much art) and to instead be respectful of “life.”

Wood está pedindo demais do autor. E boa parte dos escritores não está disposta a seguir “suas” regras, que não admitem qualquer tipo de experimento  com a noção tradicional que ele tem do que vem a ser boa literatura. Por isso, a literatura que ele descreve jamais vai se renovar.

Green resume seu argumento final contra Wood:

There is another view of what fiction can accomplish, one that does not make it subservient to an agenda of fidelity to “the real.” In this view, what continues to elude the novel as a form is the limit of its own potential for innovation. In this view, life is always already conventional, and a novel exists not as a reproduction of reality but as an addition to it, a supplement. And in this view, a work of fiction is measured by the justice it does to the aesthetic possibilities of the form, possibilities that surely exceed the arbitrary boundaries James Wood wants to enforce. Readers of How Fiction Works should keep in mind that, even if it is true that “The house of fiction has many windows, but only two or three doors, the door being opened here is still not the only one available.

Este último ponto, eu vejo como um elogio velado. A crítica é à arrogância de achar que a leitura de Wood é a única possível. Mas no fim de tudo, ela é uma leitura possível. O erro está em vê-la como única.

Anúncios




podcast com James Wood

6 11 2008

Alguém gravou uma palestra de 30 minutos de James Wood na livraria de Harvard, onde ele falou do seu livro “How Fiction Works”, que eu estou lendo e gostando muito — como acontece com quase tudo o que leio dele.

E o site ThoughCast colocou à disposição aqui pra quem quiser ouvir.





we exist in different time signatures

16 10 2008

Eu não gosto de metáforas musicais. Acho fácil demais comparar emoções ou qualquer experiência humana com música porque música sempre nos toca. Além disso, música é aquela coisa aberta a todo tipo de interpretação.
Mas gostei dessa analogia de James Wood em “How Fiction Works”, que estou lendo e me encantando, onde ele sugere que a nossa percepção do mundo se dá em diferentes fórmulas de compasso. Veja se você concorda.

Flaubertian realism, like most fiction, is both lifelike and artificial. It is lifelike because detail really does not hit us, especially in big cities, in a tattoo of randomness. And we do exist in different time signatures. Suppose I am walking down a street. I am aware of many noises, much activity, a police siren, a building being demolished, the scrape of a shop door. Different faces and bodies stream past by me. And as I pass a café, I catch the eye of a woman, who is sitting alone. She looks at me, I at her. A moment of pointless, vaguely erotic urban connection, but the face reminds me of someone I once knew, a girl with just the same kind of dark hair, and sets a train of thought going. I walk on, but that particular face in the café glows in my memory, is held there, and is being temporally preserved, while around me noise and activities are not being similarly preserved—are entering and leaving my consciousness. The face, you could say, is playing at 4/4, while the rest of the city is humming along more quickly at 6/8.
The artifice lies in the selection of detail. In life, we can swivel our heads and eyes, but in fact we are like helpless cameras. We have a wide lens, and must take in whatever comes before us. Our memory selects for us, but not much like the way literary narrative selects. Our memories are aesthetically untalented.





é matemático

13 10 2008

There is a way in which even complex prose is quite simple — because of that mathematical finality by which a perfect sentence cannot admit of an infinite number of variations, cannot be extended without aesthetic blight: its perfection is the solution to its own puzzle; it could not be done better.

James Wood in “How Fiction Works”