The Long and the Short of It: From Aphorism to Novel

The Long and the Short of It: From Aphorism to Novel

Gary Saul Morson


Brevity could be the soul of wit, however it is usually even more. during this exploration of the shortest literary works—wise sayings, proverbs, witticisms, sardonic observations approximately human nature, pithy evocations of puzzle, terse statements concerning final questions—Gary Saul Morson argues passionately for the significance of those brief genres not just to students but in addition to basic readers.

We are desirous about how short works evoke a strong feel of lifestyles in a couple of phrases, that's why we browse citation anthologies and like to repeat our favorites. Arguing that each one brief genres are brief of their personal approach, Morson explores the original type of brevity that every of them develops. Apothegms (Heraclitus, Lao Tzu, Wittgenstein) describe the universe as finally unknowable, providing no longer solutions yet ever deeper questions. Dicta (Spinoza, Marx, Freud) create the feel that unsolvable enigmas have ultimately been resolved. Sayings from sages and sacred texts guarantee us that goodness is rewarded, whereas sardonic maxims (Ecclesiastes, Nietzsche, George Eliot) discover the self-deceptions at the back of such comforting illusions. simply as witticisms show the facility of brain, "witlessisms" (William Spooner, Dan Quayle, the character assumed by means of Mark Twain) astonish with their excellent stupidity.

Nothing turns out farther from those brief works than novels and epics, however the shortest genres usually set the tone for longer ones, which, in flip, include remarkable examples of brief varieties. Morson exhibits that brief genres give a contribution vital insights into the historical past of literature and philosophical concept. after we seize the position of aphorisms in Herodotus, Samuel Johnson, Dostoevsky, or even Tolstoy, we see their masterpieces in a completely new gentle.

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