Genre and Classification

September 3, 2008 at 1:47 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

.Genre and classification   French Letters and the English Canon by Mark Daniel  (Timewell Press 2007)

 

Two brilliant works of literature have recently hit the market: Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk and Love on the Run. Both are said to be works of fiction but are they? Do they go to the fiction or non-fiction part of a collection? Should a reviewer give them an artistic or intellectual complexion by naming them among other great roman à clef novels? To help me answer this I have referred to the above excellent work by Mark Daniel.

   Could it be we are dealing with boring didactic novels that are more like those of a roman a these classification? In Sepik Blu… the protagonist is James Ward and in Love on the… we have Temlett Conibeer. Both characters are anything but boring. James, tortured by religious scruples and sexual desires  wants to get a bit but still go to heaven. Temlett is not beyond getting a bit but what he really wants is a wife. In both cases their ends or purposes in life are left in the lap of the gods. Whether they knew it or not both were Aristotelean and Thomistic in their teleological life aspirations and because these aspirations are left somewhat up in the air: James’ flight to heaven is unknown and Temlett does not seem to get a wife, we might think that both tales are ones of hopelessness. However, both James and Temlett are on a life journey and as Stevenson said: “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive…”

   Love on the Run has something of a roman fleuve about it but it’s not really about a family. The same applies to Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk. Both books are certainly not of the roman policier  variety. So back we are left with the old roman à clef.

   The PNG setting of both books adds to their exotic flavour.

   Whatever you might think of these books and of James Ward and Temlett Conibeer and it is probably all French to you, anyhow. I only hope, if they are real, that in their life activities they always practised safe sex and used a French Letter or several. Maybe on second thoughts it’s all Greek to you!

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1 Comment

  1. deberigny said,

    “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily, That is what Fiction means.”
    Oscar Wilde

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