Monday, November 03, 2008

An Unidentified Narrative Object, Gomorrah, & The Hindu

The Hindu on the nature of the new narrative.

In the mid-19th century, an angry not-so-young man, wishing to write his “complete representation of reality” had been, in the words of biographer Francis Wheen, “pushing out beyond conventional prose into radical literary collage — juxtaposing voices and quotations from mythology and literature, from factory inspectors’ reports”, injecting his long, detailed narrative with hardboiled newspaper reports as well as using devilish metaphors (a favourite of mine from an earlier publication: “...all that is solid melts into air” to describe dislocation).

In a way, Gomorrah, with its contemporary descriptions of “capital [being] dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour” is the mini Das Kapital of our times. And to mistake Saviano’s masterpiece as just ‘journalism’ would be to mistake Marx’s tumultuous classic as simply ‘economic theory’. It might not be everything that’s fit to print. But that’s our problem of defining the ‘fitness’ of things.

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