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over wandered

not because he loved the literature of the east, but from a desire that people should understand and realise what he was writing. he was near the truth upon the general question; but in his own particular method, it appears to me, he wandered. literature is not less a conventional art than painting or sculpture; and it is the least striking, as it is the most comprehensive of the three. to hear a strain of music, to see a beautiful woman, a river, a great city, or a starry night, is to make a man despair of his lilliputian arts in language. now, to gain that emphasis which seems denied to us by the very nature of the medium, the proper method of literature is by selection, which is a kind of negative exaggeration. it is the right of the literary artist, as thoreau was on the point of seeing, to leave out whatever does not suit his purpose. thus we extract the pure gold; and thus the well-written story of a noble life becomes, by its very omissions, more thrilling to the reader. but to go beyond this, like thoreau, and to exaggerate directly, is to leave the saner classical tradition, and to put the reader on his guard. and when you write the whole for the half, you do not express your thought more forcibly, but only express a different thought which is not yours.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 29th, 2013 02:34 pm (UTC)
I think the point was to make the process of selection (maybe more properly the process of being selected) part of what he was selecting. So not the whole or a whole wandering but sudden emergences from wholes, wanderings, into focus and finding.
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