Saturday, 31 October 2009

slithy toves

Rob points out that we should only break the rules when we have made a conscious and informed decision to do so. It could be said that some great writers have made breaking the rules their passion. James Joyce revolutionised the form and structure of the novel with Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake by pushing language to the extreme limits of communication. Lewis Carroll's books for children were also appealing to adults because of their inventive absurdity. The Jabberwocky commences 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves'. How did they get away with it?

It is not just the rules of language that we have to learn but also the uncertain sensitivity of our readers. Your best friend may very quickly become your ex-best friend after he has read your book. So do we compromise and please everybody or do we stick to our moral guns and tell it as it is? Did Lawrence ever imagine when he wrote Lady Chatterley's Lover in 1928 that it wouldn't be published in full in this country until 1960?

I know that some of my stories about life in France and America will offend some people, but I try to tell the events, places and people as I saw them. In some ways - which I hope is becoming apparent - I am singing a hymn to England and to Shropshire in particular; a place that truly stole my heart.


1 comment:

  1. It was Bernard Levin's epigram, not mine. Having said that, it is one I agree with. But* until we invent the punctuation mark that conveys the fact that the writer is breaking a rule of grammar or syntax consciously I don't see how we can apply it.

    * I consciously started this sentence with a conjunction.