Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Fundamenatal Shift in the way Fiction is Produced

Woolf chronicles this shift in "Mr Bennett and Mrs. Brown". It was written in response to an article by Mr. Bennett, where he criticized her portrayal of characters in Jacob's Room. The shift has to do with the author's relationship to the character, as well as the reader's relationship with the work. It is established power dynamics turned on their heads. a She gives a very specific date when this change occurred. December 10, 1919. She writes that everyone has an innate wisdom about character, but writers have particular interest in it.

Woolf uses an anecdote to illustrate her point about the change in fiction writing. The story begins when she interrupts a conversation in a train care between two people, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly finds Mrs. Brown intriguing, indeed she says each of her novels start with a proverbial old lady sitting in the corner. Mr Smith seems to be threatening Mrs. Brown. Woolf instantly imagines all sorts of stories about the woman in all sorts of situation. She imagines what Mrs. Brown's children do, how Mrs. Brown relates to her husband. But the way one see's Mrs. Brown is subjective. It hinges on such variables as age, country , and temperament of the writer, as well as the audience. So who is to say what type of portrayal is real?

Differences in how Mrs. Brown is translated on paper are what differentiate the Edwardian's and the Georgians. Mr. Bennett insists that characters much be real, or a novel is doomed from the start. This he states is what's missing from the writing of the young Georgians. But Woolf insists that something is missing from the Edwardian's writing, humanity. To describe Mrs. Brown the would tell the reader about her clothes, the railway car, and the death of her mother. The novel would create a structure in-which the reader is meant to deduce who exactly the character is. Mr. Bennet doesn't see Mrs. Brown.

Neither though, is the writing of the Edwardian's perfect. She writes that there is a meloncholy about it compared with works that came before. It suffers without a definite code on how it is supposed to interact with the reader. In reaction to the complicated etiquette in the works of the previous generations, writers break the rules. Woolf does not like it when rules are flamboyantly broken. She comments on the indecency of a man who feel "he must break the windows to breath. (209) If it takes too much effort to get to the truth about Mrs.Brown then it is no longer the truth. In conclusion she writes that this shift in literature hedges on being attentive to characters and never abandoning Mrs. Brown.

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