Male C. Pig a.k.a. Svinopolist (piggymouse) wrote,
Male C. Pig a.k.a. Svinopolist

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An excerpt from Chapter 9 of "Pfitz: A Novel"

Выписка из Пфитца. Скорее для себя и узкого круга, вослед определённым мыслям и разговорам. Разговоры были недавно, а сегодня с утра я дошёл в Пфитце до девятой главы и там мироздание решило меня удивить.

If the Attendant was to be of any help at all, then Schenck would have to try a different approach. ‘You see, I find it a little hard to understand exactly how you work in the Literature Division. Spontini would be produced by several writers … ’


‘And he went mad and apparently turned his book into a sort of autobiography.’

‘These things happen.’

‘Is that, how it would all have been planned? Would the biographers have decided on Spontini’s madness first, then the writers would follow?’

The Attendant closed his book, after carefully marking the place. He motioned Schenck to sit down.

‘Take Rimmler, for example. There are five of us working on him. First of all, he is created by Biography – that’s where everyone starts. And at some point in his early life, it becomes clear that he will be called to a literary vocation (Rimmler was encouraged at school by an enlightened teacher of rhetoric). Then we’re called in. So far, all that exists of Rimmler are some dates (his death being only provisional; a lot can happen once the Department of Pathology stick their noses in), and a few anecdotes here and there. There’s no personality to speak of; no essence. Only once Rimmler becomes an author, can that emerge. He is what he writes.

‘The five of us discuss a few general ideas. We know what sort of books Rimmler reads, his family background and so on. We agree on four things: a title, a setting, a style and a plot. Then we all go away and start writing. After a week, we compare what we’ve got. We chop it all up and stick it back together again (I joke of course; the process is really a very subtle one, requiring years of practice). We synthesize our separate texts into a single piece. What we come up with in this way is something totally new. No one of us in particular has produced the piece; it contains something of each of us, and yet something else as well. It is greater than the sum of its parts. And this extra ingredient which emerges is the personality of Rimmler. It’s a magical process, difficult to explain, but it always happens. Already after a week, he’s taken on a life of his own.

‘Then we all go away again to do the next part. We know how the story begins, and we know who’s writing it. We can begin to sound like Rimmler as we write; we try to impersonate him. Again we combine our efforts, moulding them into the correct shape. And so it goes on.

‘As each new piece of the book is finished, we send it to Biography, so that they can have a fuller impression of the person about whom they are writing. In the story there is a love affair – could this be based on fact? All writing is to some extent autobiographical, after all. So the biographers do their research, and perhaps they find that Rimmler had an opportunity to form a liaison with a governess whom he used to meet each day in the park. Biography sends us the details; we’ll use it again in his writing later on.’

‘Fascinating,’ said Schenck. ‘But if you’ll forgive me for saying so, it all sounds a little artificial. How can an original work of fiction, and even a personality, be produced by such a large group of people?’

‘Are you sure that isn’t how it all really happens? When I sit down to write Rimmler, how many voices do I hear within my own mind? Can you be sure that you yourself are really a single person, and not many within one body?

‘Very well, but what about Spontini? How might a writer go mad?’

‘There are many kinds of madness. But perhaps the elements of which he was composed came into disagreement. There may have been tensions, conflicts. It happens.’

Schenck was trying to take in everything he had heard. The whole process seemed so mysterious, so improbable. And yet this place was crammed full with its fruits; the unending shelves of completed books.

‘One thing I still can’t quite understand. If several people work to produce one Author, then how can they manage to arrive so often at a single personality? I would have thought it would be more usual for each writer to go in his own direction.’

‘The averaging process helps, when work is edited and reassembled. But also you must remember that the thing which holds all of us together in the League of Writers (of which I am a Senior Associate, First Class), is a sense of common purpose. We are all working for Rreinnstadt, and for our Authors, not for personal fame or public applause. To disappear in our work; this is our goal. And when we are creating the personality of our Author, I should explain that there are some tricks of the trade which help things along. You learn these things over the years.’

‘Such as?’

‘Well first of all, you should always begin with the Reader. At a very early stage of composition, we reach an agreement on who the book is to be for. Every Author writes for a particular Reader – it may be an actual person, or a memory, or a fantasy, but this Reader is always there in his or her imagination. We think a book is good if it makes us feel that we ourselves are that particular Reader which the Author had in mind. Then the book ‘speaks’ to us. It’s one of the tricks of the trade. So once we’ve agreed on our Reader, we aim our writing in that direction. First invent your Reader, then your Author will naturally emerge.

Tags: crumey, personal, quote, reading

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