Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Repetition with a difference

with 2 comments

Kenzaburō Ōe

I am the kind of writer who rewrites and rewrites. I am very eager to correct everything. If you look at one of my manuscripts, you can see I make many changes. So one of my main literary methods is “repetition with difference.” I begin a new work by first attempting a new approach toward a work that I’ve already written—I try to fight the same opponent one more time. Then I take the resulting draft and continue to elaborate upon it, and as I do so the traces of the old work disappear. I consider my literary work to be a totality of differences within repetition.

I used to say that this elaboration was the most important thing for a novelist to learn.

Kenzaburō Ōe, to The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

November 9, 2013 at 9:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Yes. Revise, revise, revise. Then revise again. And when it’s finally done with, revise again.

    November 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

  2. Absolutely—as long as you don’t forget to send it off!


    November 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

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