Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Thu Aug 2 18:38:19 EDT 2001

>Nat wrote:
>>It must be difficult for a modern author to not just put on the
>>brakes ... but to actually adopt as modus operandi the more
>>deliberate pacing of Austen and Dickens, especially in dialogue and
>>interior monologue.
>I?m not sure Austen & Dickens are actually slower. In Austen the 
>events themselves may seem fairly trivial to us - a walk round the 
>garden in Mansfield Park, or a walk round the room in P&P - but I 
>don?t know that the speed at wch they happen is particularly slow. 
>The dialogue is perhaps more measured than modern conversations, but 
>that probably depends to whom you talk (being a stammerer and also 
>not someone who can think quickly in conversation, I tend to 
>cultivate a Johnsonian style of conversation). As for Dickens, I?d 
>have thought he?s often pretty breathless both in the speed at wch 
>events happen and in the conversations he describes - to take an 
>extreme example, Mr Jingle in Pickwick Papers. I?ll give you that 
>the books are longer though, and probably take more concentration to 
>read than books set in our own time (though again this may be down 
>to the defamiliarising effect of the past).

I agree.  Dickens - well, the ones I've read, anyway, I didn't find 
slow.  And I only notice a pace issue with JA when reading her aloud 
- will the breath hold out until a proper pause in this sentence? 
But that walk around the room in P&P is FAR from trivial! :)

>I think pace may partly be about how much of the gaps are filled in 
>for us. For instance (squeak of brakes as we veer back towards On 
>Topic) I?d say Archer?s Goon is fairly fast-paced, because we aren?t 
>given all that much of the characters? thought processes. They work 
>things out & the first we hear of it is when they tell someone else 
>the conclusion they?ve come to - so the plot leaps as we read. In 
>contrast, in Deep Secret we get a lot of Rupert Venables?s thoughts, 
>so particularly at the start things appear to move slowly - though 
>in fact, if you look at what happens when, events are rushing past - 
>all those faxes Rupert keeps getting about the Koryfos Empire, and 
>the journeys he makes to try to find the Magid candidates, show 
>that. There also appears to be more than one storyline at the start 
>of the book, wch ought to increase the sense of pace, but as 
>everything is filtered for us through Rupert?s one-step-at-a-time 
>consciousness, everything is slowed down.

Hmmm.  I wouldn't have thought _Deep Secret_ was at all slower 
feeling than any of the other books.  I don't think.  But it's hard 
to be sure I'm not confusing my fascination with fast pace.  Because 
the first book that popped into my head as slow was _A Sudden Wild 
Magic_, which I doubt is any slower at all really.  No, on second 
thoughts, I found _Power of Three_ slow, which is probably just 
indicative of some deep disorder on my part.  It's hard, isn't it, to 
separate out the various factors which make up an overall response to 
a book?


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