Friday, November 16, 2007

The Ideal Book

Ford Madox Ford, in a 1914 review of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, pretty much nails it:

But I seem to want something fresher, something brighter, something sharper than the Myshkin Christ. For Myshkin is the same thing all over again. But if you ask me what I want…ah, there! that again is not my job. And indeed I don’t know. If I did I should try to do it myself. The only thing that I can imagine as an ideal is a book so quiet in tone, so clearly and unobtrusively worded, that it should give the effect of a long monologue spoken by a lover at a little distance from his mistress’s ear – a book about the invisible relationships between man and man; about the values of life; about the nature of God – the sort of book that nowadays one could read in as one used to do when one was a child, pressed against a tall window-pane for hours and hours, utterly oblivious of oneself, in the twilight.

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