I was thinking about the "great books" and how many of them at least seem like they were written with the benefit of deep experience (often sorrow). This is often actually not true. Dickens wasn't quite 50 for either of his two greatest novels. (Also, Pickwick makes the Complex list -- it's famously Dickens' introduction to high society, got his name on the map in his twenties.) Marquez was -- shockingly, to me -- just about 40 when he wrote 100 Years of Solitude. Steinbeck was by no means old when he wrote East of Eden. So on, so forth.

Anyway, that got me wondering about the truly "young" books. Jane Austen wrote Sense and Sensibility when she was 19. So I went and found this article.

I disagree tremendously with the inclusion of a lot of the modern novels, but perhaps the sample size really was as small as I thought it might be when this question occurred to me while writing a journal entry. Also they forgot Gatsby, presumably not intentionally, because This Side of Paradise clocks in at #4. That brings me to my final thought: are there books that, atmospherically and attitudinally, cannot be written unless you write them young? Because if there ever was one, it's This Side of Paradise.

Just kidding, not quite my final thought. The youth aspect of creation doesn't seem to apply to art, music or poetry. If anything, common wisdom says humans do their best work in those fields at a young age. Novels, though, seem at minimum to not have any age bias and at maximum to have one the other way, toward age and experience. Why?

_refugee_ and lil may have particular thoughts. lil even if memory serves has some sort of #deepreflectionsoftheday tag except something much more sincere than that, and maybe she could append it to this post.


lil:

    I was thinking about the "great books" and how many of them at least seem like they were written with the benefit of deep experience (often sorrow). This is often actually not true.

I agree. I suspect also that one can have deep experience (often sorrow) at any age. Writing great works - whether songs, poetry, or novels - requires imagination, talent, language skills, enormous reading or experience in the genre, and a lot of persistence and work, especially the work.

    The youth aspect of creation doesn't seem to apply to art, music or poetry. If anything, common wisdom says humans do their best work in those fields at a young age. Novels, though, seem at minimum to not have any age bias and at maximum to have one the other way, toward age and experience. Why?
I am rarely conscious or even curious about the age of the authors I am reading. If I stop and wonder how old the author is, then the book is a failure.

I tend to be more conscious of the author's gender especially if they are attempting to write in the voice of not-their-gender.

BTW, I just read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. He was born around 1975-6 and worked on this book for 9-10 years. It was published in 2011. So he must have started it around 2001 when he was 25 or so. I had no idea of his age while I was reading it.

Edit I did have a reflective tag but I can neither find it nor remember it.


posted by flagamuffin: 1624 days ago