I watched an interview with an author on the BBC the other day. She was on because she had written a digital book with 11 different endings. She's a previously published and successful author, and so it's not a gimmick in a launch sense, but it does exploit a possibility that digital books have. The link below is to an article by the Independant about it.
The way it works is through questions posed by the book and reader responses - which is an interesting idea. It also points to a kind of democritisation of reading in the sense that the reader can dictate their "reading journey", rather than be led by an author through the static medium of a book.
I've also seen the term - a few years ago - authoring your own reading in relation to the internet whereby a person can follow up interesting aspects of whatever they are reading.
If you include these possibilities within a novel, then you could have a reading experience that could satisfy different levels of reading, and supplement it with other related experiences. For example with War and Peace, there could be links to expand the history of the conflict in Russia, or links to related dramas and films to compare. If this was done with modern literature, then it might suggest that a piece could be writen in collaboration with IT people, historians and biographers.
Of course the great literature will still have to be written, but with digital publishing becoming easier, it may well just be a case of finding and recognising it. The 11 ending book ight just be a fad, or become a method with all the other methods employed, and that wil be employed, in writing literature.
I have found novels these days to trend more toward cohesive endings in favor of post-modern aporia.
"L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.
"Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.
That's just my two cents worth as to why, anyway, other people will probably agree, and this holds more to American novels than others.
That about sums it up for me. Very, very insightful and informed commentary that has been fun to read.This conversation is way, way, way beyond my depth
SLG-... how many artists from Norway can you name?
MortalTerror- Edvard Munch is the only Norwegian painter I can name, though I'm not sure what that proves. It's a very small country.
So is Holland.
SLG- How many artists from Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Britain, etc... made the pilgrimage to Florence and Rome vs Norway?
If Michelangelo's frescoes and statues were all in Norway, there would be a lot more.
That's debatable. What I am suggesting is that the context has a major impact upon the reputation of a work of art. The 4 greatest painters of the later Baroque era are Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Velazquez. Only Rubens had an immediate impact upon the whole of European art... and this was unquestionably due to his connections with Imperial and aristocratic courts across Europe. Rembrandt faded in popularity until he was virtually unknown at his death. He was only revived by the English Romantics. Vermeer remained a virtual unknown (It is now theorized that he had a single collector) until the late 19th century, and only became the subject of serious study after the Second World War. Velazquez was a major figure in Spain... but Spain quickly became the provincial backwater of Europe and almost none of Velazquez works could be found outside of Spain. No one in 1700 was likely to be making pilgrimages to Holland or Spain to see all the Rembrandts, Vermeers, or Velazquez because they were in no way seen as central to art until much later.
SLG- Arguably, the Limbourg Brothers magnificent Tres Riches Heurs is in no way artistically inferior to the Sistine... but how many artists did it impact? How many casual art lovers have even heard of it?
It's in every art textbook isn't it? I must confess I'm not as informed about where the Tres Riches Heurs was kept all these years, whether artists had access to study it, and who it might have influenced.
I know that access now is limited... but how open was access to the Sistine? It became a site that every artist needed to visit... and certainly the church promoted this.
Likewise, I am not sure just how influential other masterpieces of book arts such as the Shahnameh of Shah Tahmasp fared in other countries when compared with Italian frescoes.
But isn't this what I have already said concerning certain art forms? The grand-scaled epic fresco and sculptural cycles are very public art forms... meant to address a large audience as opposed to the illuminated manuscript and other more "intimate" art forms.
I have asked that question... or variants myself. To my eye, Picasso was already a brilliant artist by the time Rose Period kicked in. He had produced any number of "masterpieces" prior to Cubism. But had he continued in the manner of The Family of Saltimbanques would he be considered as central a figure to Modernism... and thus 20th century art as a whole. There have been critics that have pointed out that Matisse was the more innovative artist early on... and by most standards is a clear rival to Picasso... so why did Picasso become the dominant figure? A good part of this reason may have simply been that a great deal of Matisse' finest paintings were sold to Russian collectors, and disappeared after the revolution, whereas a majority of Picasso's finest paintings ended up in American and French collections where he could become the central figure of MoMA.
So you think that Picasso painting in a cubist style and Matisse being a practitioner of Fauvism had more to do with their respective positions within the canon than their actual talent levels?
So are you assuming that Picasso's cubist paintings are clearly greater works of art than the finest paintings of Matisse? By most critical standards Matisse' early paintings are far more innovative than Picasso's works of the Blue and the Rose period. Are the Cubist works that much better that they immediately assured Picasso of his stature above Matisse? Or was Cubism more central to the development of Modernism toward abstraction?
Nevertheless, as you yourself have been forced to recognize, Lope de Vega and Calderon are quite underrated... and quite likely would have been far more central figures had they written in English... or even French.
As I told JCamilo, location isn't the only factor. Cervantes is huge though Lope is little known outside of Spain. And as I said earlier, Jean Racine wrote in French and we ignore him too! Think about it. England is generally considered a cultural hub of Europe, but when it comes to fine art and music it is a pigmy compared to some of it's neighbors. What's that about? If it's so rich and politically important, and that's all that matters, then why don't we have a culture structured around English painting and music?
The English recognized that music and art were something that could be imported... language not being an issue. Any number of artists (Holbein, Van Dyck, Fuseli, etc...) and composers (Handel, Haydn, Johann Adolf Hasse, Nicolo Porpora, etc...) worked in England, while endless other compositions and paintings from outside England were bought by English collectors. By the period of Romanticism the British had some of the best orchestras and choirs in Europe, and they quite likely would have seen English painting (Gainsborough, Romney, Raeburn, Fuseli, Hogarth, Constable, Turner) as the leading painters of the day.
But you are forgetting that France was just as central (if not more-so) to European culture and the French opera, ballet, and museums (and artists) were surely among the finest in the world.
But let's turn to the Austro-German musical scene. For whatever reason, the courts in the German states and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (especially in Vienna and Prague) were incredibly supportive of music. Austrian and German composers dominate music from the Baroque to the early 20th century. One of the leading figures of the so-called "classical era" was Josef Haydn. Haydn spent much of his career isolated from the rest of the world and working for the Hungarian Esterhazy court. Let's look at his greatest breakthroughs: His string quartets rise to an unheard of level following the influence of Mozart. It is trips to Paris and London that inspire his greatest symphonies and his greatest choral works.
What you are arguing is that the genius toiling away in some provincial hinterland has no less chance of impacting the world through his or her art than the artist working center stage in one of the major cultural centers or the world. Emerson would probably agree with you... arguing that there is a greater nobility of achievement to be the artist who is there at the foundation of an artistic tradition. But then again... Voltaire and Goethe were surely far more influential than Emerson.
Sibelius? Dvorak? How many composers from Norway or Finland can you name before the late Romantic era and the rise of "nationalism"?
Composers, none. Most countries in Europe seem to have had a golden age in the 19th century for one reason or another. Norway is a really bad example to compare to places like England, France, Germany, Italy, or Spain because they had no nobility, national culture, sovereignty, or language for about 450 years prior to that time. Even if they weren't 1/10th the population size of their neighbors, any talent of theirs in that time would be brain drained to foreign courts. Seriously, they went through a dark age. A lot of these little European countries, were little more than satellites of other bigger nations until that time and shouldn't be compared to the larger wealthier nations with their own native cultures and traditions. A lot of them didn't speak their own language or have their own schools. Criticizing them for not having more composers in the sixteenth century is about the same as doing that to the USA. It's not a fair comparison.
Again: Holland. Holland was but a small collection of Protestant states within the Netherlands. They were wedged between the German states and France and were under the control of the Hapsburgs and Spanish. One might argue that it was the incredible wealth wrought by trade with China that placed Holland upon the map. Yes, Vermeer is great... but Vilhelm Hammershøi ain't half bad. If he isn't as great as Vermeer, why isn't he even as well-known as Bierstadt, Sargent, Whistler, Renoir, etc...?
How much impact did Goya have upon the development of art outside of Spain until the 20th century?
Velazquez remained even less known.
It was good enough for El Greco.
Again, Manet was among the first artists to actually recognize an merit in El Greco's works as they almost all remained in Spanish collections. And you don't suppose El Greco went to Spain voluntarily? He fled Italy after several death threats following his negative comments in regard to Michelangelo's Sistine frescoes.
Another compelling reason why Picasso left Spain is because he didn't like the Franco regime.
Picasso left well before Franco. He was in Paris from 1900.
Beware of the man with just one book. -Ovid
The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.- Mark Twain
My Blog: Of Delicious Recoil
Not really, Paul,in this case (the article), it offers the same flexibitly, does not matter if I flip the pages to get to my favored end or if i click buttons to get there, it is in the end the same act, principle and experience.
And yes, digital texts allow multi-reference easily, but it is also something possible on paper. My question however if we found a format where the agile multi-reference (or multi-media too) is used to allow a great reading experience. Even if we get authors that are masters of references like Borges or Joyce, their texts are not build to be break in every second after a reference. It goes in fact against them (Joyce demands a rythim, Borges demands a certain vagueness of information). I think in all those new worlds, we are just using old clothes and there is a certain false path that the great difference on digital world is interactivity, something quite present before on many medias, and not so original. Lets see what will happen with english language when all barbarism from world wide use of english be a nice aesthetic idea...
I think it will take imagination to make the most of the opportunities , and not just see it as a gimmick.
It would have been interesting to see what Joyce made of multimedia and how he crfted his books.
Gimmicky things when done by a great artist, will be admired and accepted as innovations. but I do not believe interest in great literature is going to increase because of new technology (E-books, audio books) or diminish because of facebook/twitter etc.
I can see him making his own Ulysses audio book, but can't imagine him using multi media gimmicks somehow.It would have been interesting to see what Joyce made of multimedia and how he crfted his books.
Exit, pursued by a bear.
I do not mind much gimmick, I think most of literature is gimmick (or we could reduce to it. Rhyming?Gimmick? Dialogues? Gimmick? Prose?etc). Which leads to...I think it will take imagination to make the most of the opportunities , and not just see it as a gimmick.
I think we can replace Joyce for a writer which format domain is well developed and he can use it to transforma and exercise language like Joyce did and I agree, we haven't see a Joyce, a Cervantes, a Flaubert, etc for Digital literature yet.It would have been interesting to see what Joyce made of multimedia and how he crfted his books.
It's all new, but as e-readers and screens become easier to access - who knows, perhaps we'll end up with comfortably sized personal computers that we carry with us as we do phones - then more exploration could begin.