A novel is an authors perception of the world - or is it? An analysis of 'The Well of Loneliness' by Radclyffe Hall and 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' by Wilde

Essay by DevilishCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2003

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I began by thinking that for all novels this must be true. The very writing of a book implicates humans - even if the subject matter is the cretaceous period or the moon - because to write you have to have opposable thumbs. Snide remarks about the fact that I'm currently typing will just result in me pointing out that the keyboard could not have been invented without them. There is also the fact that the novel is where prose writing becomes art, and since all art is quite useless it would take a species with a spectacular amount of time on their hands to come up with it. Again, humans.

The human condition is such, I would have said the argument went, that we cannot escape ourselves. When we say and do things they stem directly from the experiences that we have had and the conclusions we have drawn.

That is not to say that we will be sincere in everything we do - the thief poses as a window cleaner, the lecher nods and smiles - but that that very insincerity will still stem from who you are. So the girl who complains that she doesn't feel she can 'be herself' around her boyfriend really means 'I can't be who I want to be'. And when she picks up a pen to begin her novel about a teenage girl who doesn't feel like she can be herself around her boyfriend, the way she sees the world is an irrevocable part of that, regardless of whether she projects a personality onto her character that does not consciously mimic her own.

The problem comes when the motivation to write the novel comes from something other than the quest for high art. When Tony Parsons recreated himself as 'sensitive' with his...