YA literature as storytelling

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Tue Mar 30 17:45:52 EST 2004

> Ika:
> >For Benjamin (roughly), the writer and the reader of the novel are both
> >isolated, and the novel is completely consumed in the writing/reading of
> >it, with no remainder: it's an art form which is self-contained and
> >off from the world. By contrast, "the storyteller is a man* who has
> >counsel for his readers... Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is
> >wisdom. The art of storytelling is reaching its end because the epic side
> >of truth, wisdom, is dying out."


> This has been simmering very vaguely on the back-burner and I'm
> curious as to whether Benjamin gave examples of his novelists and
> storytellers?  It's an interesting distinction and the 'Counsel woven
> into the fabric of real life is wisdom' line is fantastic.  But after
> throwing out a very hasty and superficial distinction between modern
> literary fiction which might have seemed to fall into the former
> category and - what?  Didn't come up with much beyond 19th century
> lit. which would necessarily fill the second one.  Though I can see
> it as a distinction between YA and adult.

I'd need some convincing about Benjamin's novel/storytelling distinction,
even before getting to the adult/YA one. The bit about the novel being
self-contained and closed off from the world sounds very much like someone
writing during the ascent of New Criticism, doesn't it? When texts were
iconic - well-wrought urns, being rather than meaning, and all that? It
certainly doesn't describe most of the novels I can think of pre-1918 - and
they certainly *were* novels, from Fielding to Dickens to Gissing, so I
guess by 'novel' Benjamin must mean a specific type. But then, even
post-1918 Modernists like Lawrence, Forster, Hemingway (using the term
loosishly) were all busy grinding their own moral, social, political and
aesthetic axes, weren't they?

So I guess my question is the same as Hallie's - does Benjamin give
examples? Only in my case I'm having difficulty finding examples that would
fit the first category - i.e. closed-off novels that don't have any
connection with the world or any intent to counsel their readers in any way.


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