The Ditchwalk Book Club is reading and discussing Rust Hills’ seminal work, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular. Announcement here. Overview here. Tag here.
In a previous post I said it was a waste of time to categorize or systematize the various literary points of view. Here’s Hills explaining why:
Two of the very best books about fiction are E. M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel and Percy Lubbock’s The Craft of Fiction, and they differ completely on the subject of point of view.
If you buy into the premise that such discussions matter then one of these two men must be objectively wrong. There can’t be two opposing point-of-view systems that are both correct. Hills presents Lubbock’s perspective, explains Forster’s criticism of Lubbock’s views, then sides with Forster. And if I had to choose I’d side with Forster too. But I don’t buy the premise that such discussions matter.
When you go to your tool box to retrieve an open-end wrench you don’t stop to consider how all the other tools in the box relate to the one you intend to use. You don’t give any thought to the history of toolmaking, famous toolmakers or famous mechanics. You have a nut that needs turning, you know a wrench will turn the nut, and you intend to get on with it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the best wrench in the world, whether it’s hand-polished or machine-polished: the only thing that matters is whether it will do the job.
If you don’t have the right tool you might be able to get by with something else — pliers, maybe — but you’ll probably chew up the nut if you can get it off at all. As somebody who’s turned a wrench or two, I can tell you that there really is a right tool for every job, but nobody cares who made that tool or who used it in the past. If you’ve got a drawer full of gorgeous Snap-On wrenches you’ll get oohs and ahs from mechanics who know the brand, but if your grandfather’s rusty old spanner is the right size it will do the job just as well. [ Read more ]