Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The nine sorts of weather

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E.M. Forster

The most amazing work on the novel that I have met for many years…was a literary manual entitled Materials and Methods of Fiction. The writer’s name shall be concealed. He was a pseudo-scholar and a good one. He classified novels by their dates, their length, their locality, their sex, their point of view, till no more seemed possible. But he still had the weather up his sleeve, and when he brought it out, it had nine heads.

He gave an example under each head, for he was anything but slovenly, and we will run through his list. In the first place, weather can be “decorative,” as in Pierre Loti; then “utilitarian,” as in The Mill on the Floss (no Floss, no Mill; no Mill, no Tullivers); “illustrative” as in The Egoist; “planned in pre-established harmony,” as by Fiona MacLeod; “in emotional contrast,” as in The Master of Ballantrae; “determinative of action,” as in a certain Kipling story, where a man proposes to the wrong girl on account of a mud storm; a “controlling influence,” Richard Feverel; “itself a hero,” like Vesuvius in The Last Days of Pompeii; and ninthly, it can be “non-existent,” as in a nursery tale. I liked him flinging in nonexistence. It made everything so scientific and trim.

E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel

Written by nevalalee

October 11, 2015 at 7:25 am

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