Ode to particularity

Have you read Zadie Smith’s essay, “Fail Better”? I find it deeply heartening. The essay borrows its title from Samuel Beckett’s lines (famous among writers): “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Some highlights:

“For writers have only one duty, as I see it: the duty to express accurately their way of being in the world” (ZS).

and…

“A great novel is the intimation of a metaphysical event you can never know, no matter how long you live, no matter how many people you love: the experience of the world through a consciousness other than your own” (ZS).

and…

“Great styles represent the interface of “world” and “I,” and the very notion of such an interface being different in kind and quality from your own is where the power of fiction resides” (ZS).

A great ode to the moral and aesthetic significance of particularity. And, an ode to readers, in the end. I highly recommend reading it if you have time.

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