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Literature, the Modern Novel



     The novel is a 19th-century literary form which has developed into faction, based on a careful examination of the facts of a case. It is not as much fun as a novel, where the writer is free to put any nonsense which comes into his head. Bertold Brecht was among those who recognized this.
     However, faction demands a sober head, which Ernest Hemingway for one did not have. His famous novel For whom the Bell Tolls is a distorted account of the Spanish Civil War by a man whose knowledge of Spain was largely confined to bullfights. But the public loves that kind of stuff, hence the movie based on it. A tough hombre, Hemingway wrote English like one and thereby impoverished our language. The public admires tough hombres. Hemingway received that silly award, the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hemingway influenced Günther Grass, who is a much nicer man. He too won the Nobel Prize, and boosted the morale of young German writers. That splendid monthly, the World Press Review, carries in its January 2000 issue an article from Der Spiegel entitled " Grandchildren of Günther Grass." It features novels by young authors, with telling titles: Crazy, which immediately sold 180,000 copies, Kein sex mit Mike, Lügen (lice) Seltsame Materie (Weird Objects), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. and Liebediener (Love Servant). This whole harvest of novels seems to be infected with a disease, and I feel as though I were in the Berlin of the Weimar Republic. What follows?

Ronald Hilton - 1/8/00


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