Steven Weiner, Computer Specialist and Aesthetic Realism associate, writes:
Why people through the centuries have cared so much for novels is truly explained—as it has never been before—in “What the Novel Is—& Why It Matters.” Did you know that the technique of a good novel gives us hope for our own lives? Learn why in the thrilling new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known!
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
It is an honor to begin to serialize a lecture great in the understanding of art and of everyone’s life: It Still Moves; or, The Novel, by Eli Siegel. In this 1951 discussion he speaks about what the novel is, must have—the novel of any type, any year, any place. Later in the lecture he comments on many individual novels, some quite swiftly, but in every instance centrally, definitely. And as he does, his own prose—here, spoken prose—is some of the most beautiful in English.
He begins the lecture speaking about the elements of the novel, and the first section is about narrative, or narration. Many, many critics have discussed narration, and it’s a standard topic in writers’ workshops. But as Eli Siegel looks at narration, there is something that never occurred before and could only occur through the knowledge of Aesthetic Realism: he shows that the technique of a good novel is about us—it has what we want in our lives, does what we want to do. This lecture, this critical masterpiece, is an illustration of the central principle of Aesthetic Realism: “All beauty is a making one of opposites, and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves.”
For example, a large aspect of this first section is his showing that a novel, in its narrative, is always motion and rest. And, further: if the novel is good, it makes a one of those opposites—which are often warring and immensely troubling in our lives.
Eli Siegel gave this lecture 67 years ago, but what he describes is true of every novel before, since, and to come. Looking at issues of the New York Times Book Review published this very month, we can see that the matter of how well rest and motion are joined in a novel’s narrative goes on. On page 47 of the June 3rd issue, a reviewer writes that the novel she’s reviewing “moves like a skier tearing down the mountain”—and then she continues: “I appreciated the thrill of the run but would have appreciated a pause here and there to take in the view.” She’s saying that motion in this novel of our time is rather unfair to rest.
Meanwhile, on page 27, another reviewer writes that in another new novel there are “passages [that] become mere exposition dumps where the narrative pauses before continuing.” So in this novel there’s plenty of rest—but (at least in the passages referred to, and according to the reviewer) it’s rest that interferes with motion rather than strengthening it….Read more