Sunday, October 24, 2010

Plot and character


There is an important parodic strain that runs through most of my favorite English writers: Swift, Sterne, even Lewis Carroll. In fact, the three could be said to have written a single book, with chapters called A Tale of a Tub, Sentimental Journey, and Sylvie and Bruno. Their remote ancestor is the Satyricon, with which they share a will to fragmentation and black humour.


None seems terribly concerned with plot, or, for that matter, character.


I don’t know what plot and character are. Dickens created all possible (and impossible) characters, so that takes care of character. And plot, for me, belongs in mystery stories and movies. I am concerned with literary space, which is language, and not literary time. When we talk about character, we inevitably drift toward psychology: Choderlos Laclos was the first and the last to use it properly.

Guillermo Cabrera Infante, interviewed by Alfred MacAdam in Paris Review, Spring 1983.

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