Some Observations on the Art of Narrative

Some Observations on the Art of Narrative

Some Observations on the Art of Narrative

Some Observations on the Art of Narrative

Excerpt

AN ARTIST, writes Arnold Bennett ( Journals , Vol. 1), "must be interested primarily in presentment, not in the thing presented. He must have a passion for technique, a deep love for form." On the other hand, W. Somerset Maugham ( The Summing-up ) remarks: "The artist is absorbed by his technique only when his theme is of no pressing interest to him."

These two truths are not necessarily incompatible. The expert tennis player, when called on to deal during a match with a tennis ball bouncing in a remote corner of the court, does not consciously consider the technique of foot and wrist necessary to reach and hit the white sphere in the available number of seconds before, with its present speed and angle, it falls to earth. In a practice game he might thus consciously reflect, but in a match he simply leaps across the ground and turning his wrist delivers a swift and well-placed backhand stroke. If he thought consciously he would lack the time to act. But it is owing to previous training of foot and hand, to long, conscious and careful study and practice of his technique, that at the moment of action all these considerations are fused into a perfectly co-ordinated movement of the muscles. He thinks about winning the point, not about his left foot . . .

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