Re: RARA-AVIS: Lassie's social assumptions and other stuff

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 06 Sep 2006

Yes, usually the author creates the world in which the story happens but that's not always the case. On this list alone you'll find more than one author who has written novels that take place in inherited worlds.

You ask if the reader can get a glimpse into the author's worldview by looking at how the story plays out. Well, how can you tell? Here's an invoice from Sinclair Lewis to Jack London for plot ideas. I don't know how detailed they were, but you'd have to credit Sinclair Lewis at least in part for the way the story plays out.

Apart from which, I don't think it's so simple. My editor invited me to change the ending of my next book. I did. It's better. So is it now my worldview or my editor's? How can you tell? I can't.

I could form suppositions about Cain, Goodis, et al, from reading their books. Doesn't mean I'd be right. A supposition is what it is.

Since you mentioned Kiss Her Goodbye, let me give you an example. You could infer from the plotline (teenage girl commits suicide; father spends the rest of the book trying to come to terms with the reality of it) that I find father-daughter relationships interesting. Nope, can't say that I do. I'm neither a father nor a daughter. I found this particular relationship interesting, though (and, yes, of course I hope the reader does too).


  ----- Original Message -----
  Sent: Tuesday, September 05, 2006 11:42 PM
  Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Lassie's social assumptions and other stuff

  Al wrote:

  "When a character tells a story is not the same as the author telling a


  "Any apparent 'social assumptions' are those of the character. That much
  you can say."

  Again, true.

  "To make the claim that they are also those of the author may or may not
  be true but I don't see how a reader can tell simply from the text."

  Although an invisible author may be a goal for many, I'm doubtful about
  how often it is actually achieved. Doesn't the author create the world
  in which the character's story happens? And can't a reader at least get
  some hints of the author's worldview by looking at the world in which
  the character's story is told and how it plays out, who is rewarded and
  who pays, and whether or not those ends are just? Now it may be too
  much to extrapolate the author from a single work, but what about
  several? It's pretty easy to see a consistency of vision in Cain,
  Thompson, Goodis, etc, regardless of the lead character in a given book.
  But those various characters seem to exist in the same world. Can't you
  then form some suppositions about the way the author sees the world?

  For instance, Two Way Split and Kiss Her Goodbye seem to exist in the
  same world. I'm not saying you endorse the thoughts or actions of those
  characters, but can't we at least draw the conclusion from them that you
  find certain types of situations and/or characters interesting and worth
  writing about? And that you hope others will find them interesting to
  read about?



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