Thursday, June 11, 2020

Spoilers and Virginia Woolf's "The Mark on the Wall"

Virginia Woolf's "The Mark on the Wall" begins when the narrator sees that mark, continues with her reflections on it, and ends when it has been identified as a snail. It is thus broadly like a detective story: there is a mystery, and when it's solved, the story ends. If that were all, then my revealing that the mark is a snail would be a spoiler. But spoilers are only a problem with narratives whose linear focus on plot makes them only worth reading once. The mark of the great mystery story – and a great story in general – is that it's worth reading even if you know the snail did it. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 11 June)

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