Monday, May 14, 2007

Writing with two voices

Hermione Lee quotes Edward Mendelson: "One of Mendelson's main themes is that novelists often speak in 'two contradictory voices in the same book. One, the writer's official voice, expresses views the writer wants to believe but half secretly doubts. The other, unofficial voice expresses views the writer wants to deny but half secretly believes.'"

Mendelson's examples are Mary Shelley and Emily Brontë. An extreme form of this doubling of the writer's voice is mentioned in the Julian Gough article I referred to in my previous post: "The novel, at its best, cannot even submit to the authority of the novelist: Gogol burnt his follow-up to Dead Souls because, on reading the book he had just written, he was shocked to find that he profoundly disagreed with it."

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