Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The author, in his book, must be like God...

The author, in his book, must be like God in the universe, everywhere present and nowhere visible. Art being a second nature, the creator of this nature must employ analogous procedures. The reader must feel in every atom, on every surface, a concealed and infinite indifference. The effect for the spectator must be a species of amazement. How was all this done? He must wonder, and he must feel overwhelmed without knowing why. Greek art was based on the same principle, and to achieve the effect more quickly, it chose characters whose social conditions were exceptional, kings, gods, demi-gods. The writers did not speak to you about yourself; they aimed for the divine.

-- Gustave Flaubert (1852), from a letter to Louise Colet



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