Saturday, February 02, 2008

Author or novel?

Still on the Independent feature (see below) in his interview with Johann Hari, Martin Amis also discusses his work at Manchester University with the creative writing course. Of this, he says:

All I do is teach great books, from the very authorial point of view; don’t identify with Mr Darcy or Elizabeth, identify with Jane Austen, that’s the way we sort of do it, which is the way you should do it anyway.

Hmm. I don't think I agree with that. That may be all very well from an education perspective, but I don't think that's any way to approach literature from a creative point of view. One of the reasons I loathe writers like John Banville or Will Self is that they're all over their work like the pox. You're not reading that novel, but "THEIR WORD". The author is all-important, the novel simply a vessel on which to float his (usually his) overweening ego. Look at me, look at my words, look at my grandiloquence, my grandness. Aren't I super?

Now, I suppose Amis is talking about the author from the point of view of their body of work, or the themes/ideas they customarily explore. In that case, okay, I can see his point. But I would still rather study a novel rather than a novelist.

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