Friday, March 16, 2007

Sontag on Story Shape

It's late, and I haven't posted yet, so I'm going for an easy link entry tonight. The Guardian has never-before-published essay by Susan Sontag that has this little bit in it:
The pleasure of fiction is precisely that it moves to an ending. A novel is a world with borders. For there to be completeness, unity, coherence, there must be borders. Everything is relevant in the journey we take within those borders. One could describe the story's end as a point of magical convergence for the shifting preparatory views: a fixed position from which the reader sees how initially disparate things finally belong together.
I was going to say that this suggests one difference between history and historical fiction -- that one tries to bring things together, and the other doesn't. But that's not really true. Good history can do what Sontag describes. Bad novels don't. So I'll let this nag at me some more. Now it can nag at you, too.

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