Most English novelists, however happy to indulge in literary gossip, are fanatically shy of talking of the realities of their private imaginative lives, just as they entertain an ancient preference for a narrating persona that is above all unpretentious and clubbable — a predilection that extends well beyond the strict arctic (where all is Snow) of the middle-class novel. I believe this proceeds far more from the cunning puritan in our make-up (our fear that investigation of the unconscious may lessen the pleasure we derive from being its playground) than from some fatuous association between amateurishness and gentlemanliness. The simple truth is that novel-writing is an onanistic and taboo-laden pursuit, and therefore socially shameful to the more conforming and morally dubious to the more fastidious. Hemingway’s is only an extreme case of the kind of public mask knowledge of this truth forces most novelists to assume.


Male Character Happy Ending Simple Truth Psychic Process Ancient Preference 


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© John Fowles 1977

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