The Complete Angler
by Donavan Hall
…a new kind of narrator is born: no longer a man who describes things he sees, but at the same time a man who invents the things around him and who sees the things he invents.
---Alain Robbe-Grillet, "Realism to Reality" in For a New Novel
Wednesday, 9 April 2014. Attempts. Since I’m slowly reading Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, when I chanced across a link to a Robert Musil blog on the sidebar of Vertigo, I decided to explore. Anytime you take a turn in the labyrinth you risk finding undiscovered treasure.
The Robert Musil blog is called Attempts to Find Another Human Being and is written by Genese Grill of Burlington, Vermont and takes it name from the title of a collection of essays that Musil planned to publish in 1923. About the title Musil had this to say:
In fact, this could be the title for everything that I have ever written. I can think of no other excuse for spending one’s whole life at a writing desk to become a beggar. […] I can only imagine another duty with great difficulty. I have always been a writer, always pursued writing.
It has come to pass in my life that people have scolded me for it and have called me a sick human being, an intellectual, an unmoral human being, a scientist, in short, everything that I am not, and only with resistance, under the pressure of a few, people have become accustomed to thinking of me as what I believe myself to be, and want to be: a writer.
Words that perhaps most writers can uttering at some point in their lives.
Genese Grill, the author of the Musil blog, is presently translating prose pieces by Musil which will be published in book form by Contra Mundum Press in 2015. I’d not heard of Contra Mundum so I looked them up. And I found an interview with Contra Mundum Press founder Rainer J. Hanshe in The Brooklyn Rail. Contra Mundum has published a critical edition of the Philosophical Essays of Fernando Pessoa plus the first volume of the St. Orpheus Breviary by Miklós Szentkuthy titled Marginalia on Casanova. Here’s a quote from the Brooklyn Rail interview:
…Szentkuthy uses techniques which were in advance of the modern novel: he was instrumental in undermining realism (Prae was called “an eerie attack on the Hungarian realist novel”), engages in a descriptive analysis of objects (as well as concepts and historical phenomena) akin to that employed in the nouveau roman, though 20 years prior to its development—in other words, he shatters traditional modes, an achievement that led to a certain literary revolution in Hungary.
The new novel. Which recalls the entry in Vila-Matas’ Bartleby & Co. which states that Alain Robbe-Grillet revealed in his “romanesque” Ghosts in the Mirror that the nouveau roman was a hoax perpetrated with the collusion of Roland Barthes.
Lost time. Jennifer Egan’s novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, tips its hat to Proust. Evidently, “time is a goon.”