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In Search of the Novel
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eight workshops

ten novels
ten novelists
the teachers
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[Teacher-talknovel] #3: Are Novels Real

From: Randi K <>
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2012 14:19:06 -0600

Are Novels Real?

This workshop begins with the question, ‘What is ‘real?’”

One teacher in this segment begins by pointing out that, "When you enter a
novel, you enter a world that the author *asks* you to come into." The idea
here is that this world might not be “real” by traditional definitions. In
movies, we call this ‘willing suspension of disbelief’.

Mary Shelley’s *Frankenstein *is used as an example of how the myth of this
character was actually created within the context of math, physics, and
other scientific realities. The book gains a certain legitimacy as a
result. While the plot of the story has never been actualized (i.e.
animating dead tissue to "construct" a human being), certain scientific
ideas which provide the structure for the human creation, are scientific

Once we understand the origins of novels such as these, what are the
implications for our understandings and interpretations?

I found the comments by Gaines particularly interesting. Although he had
been displaced from Louisiana to California early in his lifetime, he felt
that he had left a significant history behind—and that became the focal
point and the background for his novels to come, more so than his current
life realities.

One segment of this workshop I found interesting was a brief discussion of
“reading for pleasure.” There was an idea batted around about “not wanting
to connect to a story or to think about it….just enjoy it.”

*My question is:* Do we really enjoy a novel if we don’t connect with it on
some level?

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants
happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do
other creatures.
Dalai Lama*

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Received on Mon Mar 05 2012 - 15:23:10 EST

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