Friday, June 24, 2011

Gabriel Josipovici

From page seventy of What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici:
I walk down the road, he says, my life is open before me. I do not know what will happen to me, and if my life so far is anything to go by, nothing will. Even if something dramatic happens, if a car, say, runs me over and kills me, that will not have conferred meaning on a meaningless life, only brought it to an end. But if I open a novel and read in its first pages that the hero is walking down a deserted road I know that this is the beginning of an adventure, of love perhaps, or espionage, it does not matter, it is an adventure. I feel the comforting thickness of the remainder of the novel between the thumb and index finger of my right hand and I settle back with satisfaction. This, after all, is why I am reading the novel in the first place. Not, as the banal view has it, in order to entertain myself, but to give myself the feeling that meaning exists in the world, even if I have not yet found it. That is the secret power of novels: the look like mirrors held up to the world, but what they are is machines that secrete spurious meaning into the world and so muddy the waters of genuine understanding of the human condition.


  1. Glad to see a new post from you. This extract has a lot to do with some of Magris essays in which he says about Literature, how it gives a particular order or meaning to our chaotic existence or Universe. Thanks again, I am sure that I'll eventually read it.

  2. Literature, even when it embodies dread, is an antidote to it.