Saturday, November 5, 2011

"a petering out of the reality of the book"


"What you call "thin" may more be a petering out of the reality of the book. I call your attention to various critical articles on the novel, one by Trilling and another by Jose-Ortega y Gasset. It is the job of the novel to stuff up all the cracks in the walls, to shut out the "actual" world by being entire -- and my novels evidently are not quite entire. I have not got all the cracks stuffed; the outside atmosphere seeps in and recalls the reader to the viewpoint of daily life."
-Philip K. Dick, in a 1960 letter to his editor
(thanks to Frank Bertrand for posting this quote)

4 comments:

  1. I'm not sure why you didn't include the rest of the quote, the intent being to show how Philip K. Dick, early in his career, used ideas from both Jose Ortega y Gasset and Lionel Trilling to discuss with a book editor what might be missing from his novel writing. That's all he is doing. There is nothing there about "dia" this or "dia" that...

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  2. hey Frank, I must have misread your post, because it seemed that that was where the Philip K. Dick part of the post ended, and the Frank Bertrand part of the post began. I was probably confused by the presence of the end quote, but I also believe as this blog's cut-and-paster that the piece I clipped is about the right size for this post. Feel free to post a corrected quotation in its entirety as a comment.

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  3. From a 2/1/60 letter to Eleanor Dimoff, a book editor:

    "What you call "thin" may more be a petering out of the reality of the book. I call your attention to various critical articles on the novel, one by Trilling and another by Jose-Ortega y Gasset. It is the job of the novel to stuff up all the cracks in the walls, to shut out the "actual" world by being entire -- and my novels evidently are not quite entire. I have not got all the cracks stuffed; the outside atmosphere seeps in and recalls the reader to the viewpoint of daily life."

    Compare the phrase "have not got all the cracks stuffed" with this from an early essay, "Notes On The Novel," by Jose Ortega y Gasset:

    "The author must build around us a wall without chinks or loopholes through which we might catch, from within the novel, a glimpse of the outside world."

    And compare the phrase, from PKD's letter, "petering out of reality," to this from an early essay, "Reality In America," by Lionel Trilling:

    "The scope of reality being what it is, ideas are held to be mere "details," and, what is more, to be details which, if attended to, have the effect of diminishing reality."

    To be pondered is Philip K. Dick's use of ideas from early critical essays about the novel by Lionel Trilling and Jose Ortega y Gasset, to help explain what may be missing from his own novels.

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