I hope eventually that the novels, that I continue to write, might finally have their own independent voice. I have read over a lifetime, so many books and quite a few from a previous century. The style of writing, in the Victorian era, which is described as the Romanticist period, and a bit before the gothic/romantic Mary Shelley, included, held quite a few marvels, that seem forever, to be taught, and remain, subject for study, at university level at least. In my mother’s era, they as children, were given George Elliot’s Silas Marner at school, but, by the time, I came to do my final O Levels, the main study novel was indeed, the very famous To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. The American’s had usurped the English novelists, in importance! The consolation was Shakespeare for a playwriter, Romeo and Juliet, and still this was backed up with a visit to the local cinema to see Franco Zeffirelli’s, version of the famous tragedy. I am saying ‘backed’, because even by the time, that I came along, in the mid seventies, for O Level study, television, and the newly growing Hollywood film industry, had already made its dent, in the call for an attentive audience. In the fast growing technology of the TV playscreen, from black and white to Technicolor, there was an obvious demand for screenplay writers, and the need would have had many an aspiring, author in its clench. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed the replays of black and white movies, the early movies of Tennessee Williams’ screen play talent. There was a great sense of classicism, in the story lines, and emotional outpourings of the characters, who became iconic, to the next generation of would be actors and starlets. Great screenplays, added to great acting and directing, was bound to create diversion, and in the same breath, an addictive pastime. I think the arguments for ‘where the great novel’ went, is thoroughly, embedded, in this call for time on everyone’s leisure moments. Hedonism, was with us from at least the post war era onward. However, it is true, that great novels, have been written that then have been made into films. But, it is also true, that not every novel, of our modern era, makes the same impact as something like, Wuthering Heights, or Gone With the Wind. And between the original novel, and the screenplay, there exists, a transformation, which does not always translate the greatness of the original text. I am mindful of something I recently, watched, but, mainly for the actors, and some of the ‘romance’, element of the story, the novelist Nicholas Sparks, who wrote Message in a Bottle, did not get to write the screenplay which is by,Gerald di Pego. I kept wondering throughout, about the flimsiness of the characters, and, so, yes, what could have been, an awesome, and, deep statement about bereavement, fell a little flat. Grief is a very complex, state of being, and my heart wanted to feel, something for the man who had lost his wife, Catherine. I could not create in my own, head any more connection, with the entertainment of the film, than just letting the wash of the sea that eventually consumes the ‘hero’, wash over me by the finish.
Novels, That Last the Test of Time.. is that a better heading? Well I suppose the film industry is never really going to run out of great classics, as there are plenty of ghost stories and Tolkien went down a storm! Will that make people read the original novel. Well in my case, when they filmed, Thomas Hardy’s, Jude the Obscure, I directly went out to Waterstones in Brighton and bought the book.
‘In it I argued that the novel was losing its cultural centrality due to the digitization of print.’ (Will Self)
Saving the Great British Novel? Well I am not worried too much about the novel, and whether to write it or not, as there is a market albeit for electronically transferred data, thankfully, long train journeys and commuter traffic will ensure, some readership, and a growing population of retired people, which is on the increase. I am not sure whether to rely on Will Self, as a ‘weatherman’ for trends, over literature, but, I guess, given, that the classical element of some high-end writing, meaning literature, might well be suffering, some lack of recognition for the modern-day author of works of a more aesthetical nature. My thoughts are in this sense, in the days of the writer, James Joyce, who married and kept his family, not only by the means of his authoring of books, but, also by whatever job, including teaching English to foreigners, in Switzerland, and working in clerical positions of government, still kept to his goal of breaking the mould, and experimenting with poetry in the prose form.
Will, himself is probably way out in the frontier zone, with abstraction, and by that meaning psychological realism, to the full brunt of interactive text. With all of the content of ‘Shark’, in mind, the social comment, and the whole drama of events described vividly, throughout the story, I found myself battling with the text, and surprisingly, ending up with quite a lot of memorable scenes to describe, after laying the book down.I am intending to write a bit more in due course, but, perhaps, in the past authors, did not have the privilege of knowing what kind of response their work would create. My question perhaps, instead of why it is suggested that society is evolving away from story telling, is it not the case that much of what is life, repeats itself, even between centuries. Science creates new subject, and new subject will always inspire more story telling. Star Wars, and Star Trecking included! And there we have that wonderful tale, Hitch Hicker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My theory too, is eventually any true intellectual, will become bored fairly soon, with the tittle-tattle of new fandango gadgets, and plump right back to a source of enduring quality writing. Remembrance of Things Past (Marcel Proust) included!