Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jonathan Gottschall, "The Storytelling Animal (How Stories Make Us Human)"

- Mariner Books, New York 2013, ISBN 978-0-544-00234-0 248 p.

Read from June 22nd to July 16th 2016

My rating:

Someone complained that Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal is overgrown – that is, that all the ideas it contains could have been easily synthetized in a long article. I wouldn’t go so far, although I also felt sometimes that one point or another was discussed to its outer limits. Anyway, it was an interesting enough reading, even if not very original.

The premise of the book, disclosed by the title (quoting Graham Swift’s inspiring definition of mankind given in Waterland: “Man – let me offer you a definition – is the storytelling animal”) is that the human being is a Homo fictus, who makes up stories all his life, whether he is an artist or not, and the author takes his time in revealing how and why the fiction influences the human life, to stress “the major function” of storytelling: to shape the very human mind that shaped it, in order to prepare it for the everyday problems.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"

 – e-book

Read from: February 17th to 27th 2014

My rating:

Oh, these modernists, what a mess they’ve made of the narrative! What a wonderful, wonderful mess! Gone is the narrator with his arrogant omniscience, gone is the plot with its mania of ordering the events, gone is the safe timeline, gone the round characters, gone, all of them, for they are lies, they pretend to imitate reality while they do not. Or so Virginia Woolf thinks:

"Life is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged: life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end. Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display...?" (Modern Fiction)