Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

19

There is a final refinement of free indirect style--we should now just call it authorial irony--when the gap between an author's voice and a character's voice seems to collapse altogether; when a character's voice does indeed seem rebelliously to have taken over the narration altogether. 'The town was small, worse than a village, and in it lived almost none but old people, who died so rarely it was even annoying.' What an amazing opening! It is the first sentence of Chekhov's story 'Rothschild's Fiddle.' The next sentences are: 'And in the hospital and jail there was very little demand for coffins. In short, business was bad.' The rest of the paragraph introduces us to an extremely mean coffin-maker, and we realise that the story has opened in the middle of free indirect style: [...] We are in the midst of the coffinmaker's mind, for whom longevity is an economic nuisance. Chekhov subverts the expected neutrality of the opening of a story or novel, which might traditionally begin with a panning shot before we narrow our focus [...]

Narrating (5) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

There is a final refinement of free indirect style--we should now just call it authorial irony--when the gap between an author's voice and a character's voice seems to collapse altogether; when a character's voice does indeed seem rebelliously to have taken over the narration altogether. 'The town was small, worse than a village, and in it lived almost none but old people, who died so rarely it was even annoying.' What an amazing opening! It is the first sentence of Chekhov's story 'Rothschild's Fiddle.' The next sentences are: 'And in the hospital and jail there was very little demand for coffins. In short, business was bad.' The rest of the paragraph introduces us to an extremely mean coffin-maker, and we realise that the story has opened in the middle of free indirect style: [...] We are in the midst of the coffinmaker's mind, for whom longevity is an economic nuisance. Chekhov subverts the expected neutrality of the opening of a story or novel, which might traditionally begin with a panning shot before we narrow our focus [...]

—p.19 Narrating (5) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
28

So the novelist is always working with at least three languages. There is the author's own language, style, perceptual equipment, and so on; there is the character's presumed language, style, perceptual equipment, and so on; and there is what we could call the language of the world—the language that fiction inherits before it gets to turn it into novelistic style, the language of daily speech, of newspapers, of offices, of advertising, of the blogosphere and text messaging. [...]

Narrating (5) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

So the novelist is always working with at least three languages. There is the author's own language, style, perceptual equipment, and so on; there is the character's presumed language, style, perceptual equipment, and so on; and there is what we could call the language of the world—the language that fiction inherits before it gets to turn it into novelistic style, the language of daily speech, of newspapers, of offices, of advertising, of the blogosphere and text messaging. [...]

—p.28 Narrating (5) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
34

To this end, Flaubert perfected a technique that is essential to realist narration: the confusing of habitual detail with dynamic detail. Obviously, in that Paris street, the women cannot be yawning for the same length of time as the washing is quivering or the newspapers lying on the tables. Flaubert's details belong to different time signatures, some instantaneous and some recurrent, yet they are smoothed together as if they are all happening simultaneously.

The effect is lifelike—in a beautifully artificial way. Flaubert manages to suggest that these details are somehow at once important and unimportant: important because they have been noticed by him and put down on paper, and unimportant because they are all jumbled together, seen as if out of the corner of the eye; they seem to come at us 'like life'. From this flows a great deal of modern storytelling, such as war reportage. The crime writer and war reporter merely increase the extremity of this contrast between important and unimportant detail, converting it into a tension between the awful and the regular: a soldier dies while nearby a little boy goes to school.

Flaubert and Modern Narrative (32) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

To this end, Flaubert perfected a technique that is essential to realist narration: the confusing of habitual detail with dynamic detail. Obviously, in that Paris street, the women cannot be yawning for the same length of time as the washing is quivering or the newspapers lying on the tables. Flaubert's details belong to different time signatures, some instantaneous and some recurrent, yet they are smoothed together as if they are all happening simultaneously.

The effect is lifelike—in a beautifully artificial way. Flaubert manages to suggest that these details are somehow at once important and unimportant: important because they have been noticed by him and put down on paper, and unimportant because they are all jumbled together, seen as if out of the corner of the eye; they seem to come at us 'like life'. From this flows a great deal of modern storytelling, such as war reportage. The crime writer and war reporter merely increase the extremity of this contrast between important and unimportant detail, converting it into a tension between the awful and the regular: a soldier dies while nearby a little boy goes to school.

—p.34 Flaubert and Modern Narrative (32) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
50

[...] A second later, control has been reasserted: "Her face still streamed with tears, but she was soothed and comforted and entirely herself as she rose to her feet and began straightway to occupy her mind with the announcement of the death—an enormous number of elegant cards, which must be ordered at once.' Life returns to busyness and routine after the tearing of death. A commonplace. But the selection of that adjective 'elegant' is subtle; the bourgeois order stirs to life with its 'elegant' cards, and Mann suggests that this class retains faith in the solidity and grace of objects, clings to them indeed.

from Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

Detail (48) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] A second later, control has been reasserted: "Her face still streamed with tears, but she was soothed and comforted and entirely herself as she rose to her feet and began straightway to occupy her mind with the announcement of the death—an enormous number of elegant cards, which must be ordered at once.' Life returns to busyness and routine after the tearing of death. A commonplace. But the selection of that adjective 'elegant' is subtle; the bourgeois order stirs to life with its 'elegant' cards, and Mann suggests that this class retains faith in the solidity and grace of objects, clings to them indeed.

from Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann

—p.50 Detail (48) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
93

[...] I think that novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or deep enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level. In such cases, our appetite is quickly disappointed, and surges wildly in excess of what we are provided, and we tend to blame the author for not giving us enough—the characters, we complain, are not alive or round or free enough. Yet we would not dream of accusing Sebald or Woolf or Roth—none of whom is especially interested in creating character in the solid, old-fashioned nineteenth-century sense—of letting us down in this way, because they have so finely tutored us in their own conventions, their own expansive limitations, to be satisfied with just what they give us.

Character (75) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] I think that novels tend to fail not when the characters are not vivid or deep enough, but when the novel in question has failed to teach us how to adapt to its conventions, has failed to manage a specific hunger for its own characters, its own reality level. In such cases, our appetite is quickly disappointed, and surges wildly in excess of what we are provided, and we tend to blame the author for not giving us enough—the characters, we complain, are not alive or round or free enough. Yet we would not dream of accusing Sebald or Woolf or Roth—none of whom is especially interested in creating character in the solid, old-fashioned nineteenth-century sense—of letting us down in this way, because they have so finely tutored us in their own conventions, their own expansive limitations, to be satisfied with just what they give us.

—p.93 Character (75) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
122

Dostoevskian character has at least three layers. On the top layer is the announced motive: Raskolnikov, say, proposes several justifications for his murder of the old woman. The second layer involves unconscious motivation, those strange inversions wherein love turns into hate and guilt expresses itself as poisonous, sickly love. Thus Raskolnikov's mad need to confess his crime to the police and to Sonia the prostitute presages Freud's comment on the action of the superego: 'In many criminals,' writes Freud, 'especially youthful ones, it is possible to detect a very powerful sense of guilt which existed before the crime, and is therefore not its result but its motive.' Or in the case of Fyodor Karamazov and his desire to punish the neighbour to whom he was once nasty, you could say that guilt is causing him, unconsciously, to be horrible to his neighbour; his behaviour recalls the quip— both funny and deadly serious—of the Israeli psychoanalyst who remarked that the Germans would never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust. [...]

A Brief History of Consciousness (107) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

Dostoevskian character has at least three layers. On the top layer is the announced motive: Raskolnikov, say, proposes several justifications for his murder of the old woman. The second layer involves unconscious motivation, those strange inversions wherein love turns into hate and guilt expresses itself as poisonous, sickly love. Thus Raskolnikov's mad need to confess his crime to the police and to Sonia the prostitute presages Freud's comment on the action of the superego: 'In many criminals,' writes Freud, 'especially youthful ones, it is possible to detect a very powerful sense of guilt which existed before the crime, and is therefore not its result but its motive.' Or in the case of Fyodor Karamazov and his desire to punish the neighbour to whom he was once nasty, you could say that guilt is causing him, unconsciously, to be horrible to his neighbour; his behaviour recalls the quip— both funny and deadly serious—of the Israeli psychoanalyst who remarked that the Germans would never forgive the Jews for the Holocaust. [...]

—p.122 A Brief History of Consciousness (107) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
129

[...] George Eliot, in her essay on German realism, put it like this: 'The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies ... Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellowman beyond the bounds of our personal lot.'

Sympathy and Complexity (128) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

[...] George Eliot, in her essay on German realism, put it like this: 'The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies ... Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellowman beyond the bounds of our personal lot.'

—p.129 Sympathy and Complexity (128) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
174

The style could be called commercial realism. It lays down a grammar of intelligent, stable, transparent storytelling, itself derived from the more original grammar of Flaubert; and of course it didn't end with Greene. Efficient contemporary realistic narrative, elegantly finished, still sounds pretty much like this. Here is John le Carre, from Smiley 's People:

Smiley arrived in Hamburg in mid-morning and took the airport bus to the city centre. Fog lingered and the day was very cold. In the Station Square, after repeated rejections, he found an old, thin terminus hotel with a lift licensed for three persons at a time. He signed in as Standfast, then walked as far as a car-rental agency, where he hired a small Opel, which he parked in an underground garage that played softened Beethoven out of loudspeakers.

This is nice writing, for sure, and by the standards of contemporary thrillers it is magnificent (the 'thin' hotel is very good). But the detail selected is either reassuringly flat (fog, cold, the Opel car), or reassuringly 'telling': it is nothing out of the ordinary. The hotel is dabbed onto the canvas with its lift that can only carry three, the garage by its Beethoven. The selection of detail is merely the quorum necessary to convince the reader that this is 'real', that it 'really happened'. It may be 'real' but it is not real, because none of the details is very alive. The narrative, the grammar of the realism, exists in order to announce to us: 'This is what reality in a novel like this looks like—a few details that are not extraordinary but nevertheless tastefully chosen and executed, enough to get the scene going.' The passage is a clever coffin of dead expectations.

Truth, Convention, Realism (168) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

The style could be called commercial realism. It lays down a grammar of intelligent, stable, transparent storytelling, itself derived from the more original grammar of Flaubert; and of course it didn't end with Greene. Efficient contemporary realistic narrative, elegantly finished, still sounds pretty much like this. Here is John le Carre, from Smiley 's People:

Smiley arrived in Hamburg in mid-morning and took the airport bus to the city centre. Fog lingered and the day was very cold. In the Station Square, after repeated rejections, he found an old, thin terminus hotel with a lift licensed for three persons at a time. He signed in as Standfast, then walked as far as a car-rental agency, where he hired a small Opel, which he parked in an underground garage that played softened Beethoven out of loudspeakers.

This is nice writing, for sure, and by the standards of contemporary thrillers it is magnificent (the 'thin' hotel is very good). But the detail selected is either reassuringly flat (fog, cold, the Opel car), or reassuringly 'telling': it is nothing out of the ordinary. The hotel is dabbed onto the canvas with its lift that can only carry three, the garage by its Beethoven. The selection of detail is merely the quorum necessary to convince the reader that this is 'real', that it 'really happened'. It may be 'real' but it is not real, because none of the details is very alive. The narrative, the grammar of the realism, exists in order to announce to us: 'This is what reality in a novel like this looks like—a few details that are not extraordinary but nevertheless tastefully chosen and executed, enough to get the scene going.' The passage is a clever coffin of dead expectations.

—p.174 Truth, Convention, Realism (168) default author 4 months, 1 week ago
184

And in our own reading lives, every day, we come across that blue river of truth, curling somewhere; we encounter scenes and moments and perfectly placed words in fiction and poetry, in film and drama, which strike us with their truth, which move and sustain us, which shake habit's house to its foundations [...]

this makes me melt

Truth, Convention, Realism (168) default author 4 months, 1 week ago

And in our own reading lives, every day, we come across that blue river of truth, curling somewhere; we encounter scenes and moments and perfectly placed words in fiction and poetry, in film and drama, which strike us with their truth, which move and sustain us, which shake habit's house to its foundations [...]

this makes me melt

—p.184 Truth, Convention, Realism (168) default author 4 months, 1 week ago