Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

“The novel is marriage. Poetry is infidelity…”

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Howard Nemerov

Why should I, after turning purposely to poetry alone some five years ago, and producing a large quantity of works in that area, feel so strong and helpless an impulse, almost compulsion, to write fiction, especially to write a novel?

I see one reason right off. It has to do with the upbringing once again. For a Jewish Puritan of the middle class, the novel is serious, the novel is work, the novel is conscientious application—why, the novel is practically the retail business all over again. But poetry is exalted pleasure, and in the world of my childhood and adolescence, pleasure is primarily known as something that has to be paid for.

A characteristic metaphor for this division has occurred to me many times: The novel is marriage. Poetry is infidelity. I thought of this first with respect to the steady, long-term involvement with the one as against the violent suddenness and intermittence of the other; but it may apply in other ways as well.

Howard Nemerov, Journal of the Fictive Life

Written by nevalalee

February 2, 2013 at 9:50 am

Posted in Quote of the Day, Writing

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