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    Tight American Literature

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    BleedingStatue

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    Tight American Literature

    Post  BleedingStatue on Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:53 am

    I'm going to be taking a Contemporary American Literature course this summer, so I'll be more educated on what I'm about to discuss: but what I want to discuss is what I've encountered with some American Literature I have come across so far, that is, tight prose.


    There seems to me, a lack of bulk and unnecessary descriptions. The sentences seem to be concise and not as flowery as Russian, French, or British lit. To be Aristotelian about it, it seems that a lot of famous American literature doesn't add too much or too little, but just right.

    Two authors that I can point to are Nabokov and King. Controversial authors in themselves, but I honestly think no one can accuse them of not having dynamite and logically clear prose.

    To people more versed in American lit, do you think the ideas I'm exploring have some grain of truth? Does American literature tend to be less "bulky" and more to the point? I'm sure there are exceptions, so let's stick to All-Star authors and discuss them (Mark Twain for example).

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    Tiresias
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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  Tiresias on Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:10 am

    I wonder whether the tendency you've highlighted - certainly something I've observed myself - is a peculiar product of the American sensibility, or rather an example of a young nation reflecting a general trend in modern literature toward concision. There is, of course, an apotheosis of linguistic economy in the High Modernist movement, as surmised by Ezra Pound's "Good writers are those who keep the language efficient" epigram. Though introducing Mr. Pound seems rather redundant, given that he was both American and (very) modern.
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    CallMeNegro

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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  CallMeNegro on Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:42 am

    BleedingStatue wrote:I'm going to be taking a Contemporary American Literature course this summer, so I'll be more educated on what I'm about to discuss: but what I want to discuss is what I've encountered with some American Literature I have come across so far, that is, tight prose.


    There seems to me, a lack of bulk and unnecessary descriptions. The sentences seem to be concise and not as flowery as Russian, French, or British lit. To be Aristotelian about it, it seems that a lot of famous American literature doesn't add too much or too little, but just right.

    Two authors that I can point to are Nabokov and King. Controversial authors in themselves, but I honestly think no one can accuse them of not having dynamite and logically clear prose.

    To people more versed in American lit, do you think the ideas I'm exploring have some grain of truth? Does American literature tend to be less "bulky" and more to the point? I'm sure there are exceptions, so let's stick to All-Star authors and discuss them (Mark Twain for example).

    Nabokov's prose is not tight, he's quite lyrical; he's also not an American author regardless of what you want to twist Lolita into.

    Off the top of my head, Faulkner, Pynchon, and Melville all contrast with your observation.
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    BleedingStatue

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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  BleedingStatue on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:14 pm

    Nabokov's prose is not tight, he's quite lyrical;

    Nabokov's extensive use of brackets to convey ideas and shorten prose is evidence enough to prove my point that his prose is indeed tight and almost mechanical.

    he's also not an American author regardless of what you want to twist Lolita into.

    The front of my book clearly states: "Lolita Vladimir Nabokov~A Contemporary American Classic"

    We are talking about American lit aren't we?

    I'm unfamiliar with the other author's you've listed, so I can't confirm or disprove.
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    perkunas

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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  perkunas on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:23 pm

    Nabokov spent the beginning of his life in Russia and wrote his first novels in Russian. It could be contended that he's an "American" writer. Then again, perhaps it serves America's melting-pot style to embrace him as American? At any rate you could make an argument for either side.

    And as for the actual point of this thread - I'm not sure if tight prose is American so much as modern, and thus American dominated. I'd probably have to know more about literature across the board to make a serious claim.
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    CallMeNegro

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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  CallMeNegro on Sun Apr 22, 2012 12:44 pm

    BleedingStatue wrote:
    Nabokov's prose is not tight, he's quite lyrical;

    Nabokov's extensive use of brackets to convey ideas and shorten prose is evidence enough to prove my point that his prose is indeed tight and almost mechanical.

    he's also not an American author regardless of what you want to twist Lolita into.

    The front of my book clearly states: "Lolita Vladimir Nabokov~A Contemporary American Classic"

    We are talking about American lit aren't we?

    I'm unfamiliar with the other author's you've listed, so I can't confirm or disprove.

    You haven't read anything than Lolita then, obviously, and despite Lolita's state as an American novel, a Russian born writer who spent as much time writing in Germany and Switzerland is hardly an American writer. I'd advise you read more than one work by an author before you attempt to comment on his style. Ada and Glory are good representations of his beginning and ending as a writer.

    To Perkunas;

    I'd agree with it being more a sign of modern and postmodern style than American.

    NEETzsche

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    Re: Tight American Literature

    Post  NEETzsche on Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:14 am

    I think it simply owes to Hemingway's influence being at its strongest there.

    Btw, there is no way Nabokov qualifies as a minimalist writer. 'Lolita' is about as flowery as it gets.

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