Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poems and Novels

A novel orients you in your culture; a poem extricates you from it. A novel helps you cope. A poem gets you out.

(Nabokov would balk: literature just makes you tingle. It's easy to find your way around a cell. You don't try to leave.)


Laura Carter said...

I think sometimes "getting out" is a way of coping. Who doesn't enjoy a "long Sunday"?

But, yes, I agree with you that poetry and what we call (and what Pound might define as) history are not as connected as, say, fiction is to history.

This is assuming that you mean that narrative is the pulse beneath fiction, that most fiction deals with storytelling in a traditional sense.

Thomas said...

Yes, novels are essentially stories. But Ulysses is of course the limit case. "History is the nightmare from which I am trying to awake," says Stephen. Of course, escaping from your culture, and awakening from a nightmare are not quite the same thing. Perhaps poems are more realistic. Fictions need history (as lives need nightmares sometimes?) Poems are free from sorrow.

Sundays, not always.