Friday, November 28, 2008


NOVEL, n. A short story padded. A species of composition bearing the same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art. As it is too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama. Unity, totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before. To the romance the novel is what photography is to painting. Its distinguishing principle, probability, corresponds to the literal actuality of the photograph and puts it distinctly into the category of reporting; whereas the free wing of the romancer enables him to mount to such altitudes of imagination as he may be fitted to attain; and the first three essentials of the literary art are imagination, imagination and imagination. The art of writing novels, such as it was, is long dead everywhere except in Russia, where it is new. Peace to its ashes — some of which have a large sale.

2008 Update: The labors of Heracles as presented to the sallow and pencil-necked; a great test of a writer's diligence, organization, thievishness and repetition. Rewards to a successful challenger include an august place on low shelves in airports and bus stations as well as the possibility of going unread in thousands of homes. On the day it is fully realized that blogs accomplish everything that novels achieve without concentration, the great presses at Simon and Schuster may finally rest silently in hell.


Al said...

Novel: An easy Christmas re-gift. See Great American.

(You beat Bierce today, Doug.)

Anonymous said...

Will it ever be done?

19,000+ words says I hope so!!

Ariel the Thief said...

The word "novel" seems to have its effect on writers!

TLP said...

Ambrose wrote one for the difinition.

Anonymous said...

the novel feel of a full tummy in the morning....Peace

Anonymous said...

NOVEL, n. A novelty. Or at least that's what the publicist hopes you will think.

Yep. I posted. It wasn't a novel. Happy Black Friday.

Hobbes said...

Novel, adj.: Not yet stale.

Anonymous said...

A NOVEL: obviously the length of the definition of this post! Whatever happened to short and pithy?

Anonymous said...

Long live the novel I say.

Now,now, you just dashed Barnes and Noble's stock down another 20 percent with that proclamation.

I should ask you though, the holiday's approaching do you re-gift as well as you redefine?

Jim said...

Novel: My 'novel writing book' says not to read novels. It sets a person's mind so that some of what comes to mind is similar to what was just read.
I took a speed reading course, when I am in good form I can read several novels in an hour's time.

This may be goodbye to you. Are you still taking December off from your blog? If you do, that will be about 26 novels we will miss.

Unknown said...

Novel: a great way to lie to oneself about one's own talent on 200+ pages.

Doug The Una said...

Al, I think I was a sentence or two more concise.

Me too, Jenn.

And bloggers, too, Ariel.

Yeah, TLP, and I can't make fun of him for it. Your turn.

Bear, not as novel as it once was or will be again.

I enjoyed it, Amoeba. Nicely satirized.

Odd, isn't it, Hobbes?

Quilly, no time for short writing.

Ha, Cooper. I'm nowhere near organized enough to regift.

You know, Actonbell, I agree actually but "one of the things that makes life worth living" doesn't fit the theme. I had to make fun of someone.

Hardly, Jim, but yeah, I'll wish you all good luck Monday and then take my blogcation.

Excellent use of paper, isn't it Lily?