Monday, April 27, 2009

Neither Poem Nor Novel

A few thoughts on re-reading Look Homeward, Angel. 

Wolfe's style is an unfortunate example of what happens when a born poet tries to write a great novel. The result is neither poem nor novel, but a mosaic of both genres, a strained ambition to contain everything in a single narrative. It might have been a great series of poems. It might have even been a great novel.

Wolfe is a random adverb generator. They appear in his sentences at the most unexpected places. "Remembering speechlessly," "He had long brown mustaches that hung straight down mournfully," "A brakeman came draftily into the dirty plush coach," and "The huge bulk of the hills was foggily emergent" are four examples from nearly the first page.

Finally, Wolfe believed in full employment for adjectives. Why use one when two or three might be lying around out of work? 

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