Re: Neat? No?

Subject: Re: Neat? No?
From: Will Hochman (
Date: Fri Jan 25 2002 - 20:18:16 GMT

>So where, then, does the connection become less influence and more
>imitation? Writers, if they've spent any time at it, know that they're
>generally repeating what has already been said over and over, ad
>infinitum, through the ages. So the key is to say it in an accent that is
>different from everyone else's. Someone who can manage that comes along
>maybe once in a generation. Have we found this generation's voice?
Cecilia (not surprisingly) gets to the heart of literature's great
paradox...language itself is a great soup of influence and imitation,
and literature, like language, repeats itself with distinction! We
teach writers and artists to learn to imitate masters not so that
work can be duplicated--we believe that learning the methods and
skills of masters enables us to further that mastery...sometimes. In
the hands of lesser artists, the imitation is as close to the mastery
as they get, but greater artists use the insights of masters (even if
"use" here means rejecting them) to further their own artistic paths.
I agree with Scottie on this one...the Schemmel piece was too
derivative to stand on its own, but so what? How readers respond to
literature is more important than deciding who is a great artist and
who isn't. In other words, when readers are "too strongly influenced"
by writers they love, what happens? We swim in the joy of a writer's
language and influence with a glimpse of understanding that makes the
art more alive. Yes, we may offend some who know the original
writer's work too well to suffer through lesser words, but we also
continue to give life to literature in creative ways that make this
stale old critic pretty happy in his old age, will

	Will Hochman

Assistant Professor of English Southern Connecticut State University 501 Crescent St, New Haven, CT 06515 203 392 5024

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