Cabell on Literature

Three  quotes by James Cabell:

“A book, once it is printed and published, becomes individual. It is by its publication as decisively severed from its author as in parturition a child is cut off from its parent. The book “means” thereafter, perforce, — both grammatically and actually, — whatever meaning this or that reader gets out of it.”

“A novel, or indeed any work of art, is not intended to be a literal transcription from Nature … Life is a series of false values. There it is always the little things that are greatest. Art attempts to remedy this. It may be defined as an expurgated edition of Nature.”

Poetry is man’s rebellion against being what he is.”

“Un libro, una volta stampato e pubblicato, diventa un individuo a se stante. Con la sua pubblicazione viene nettamente separato dal suo autore come durante il parto un bambino è separato dalla madre . Il libro da allora  “ha significato”, sia grammaticalmente che realmente, …. Qualunque sia il significato che ne trae il lettore.”

“Un romanzo, o qualsiasi opera d’arte, non vuole essere  una trascrizione letterale della Natura . … La vita è una serie di falsi valori, in cui sono le piccole cose ad essere le più grandi. L’arte tenta di rimediare a ciò: può essere definita come un’edizione espurgata della Natura.”

“La poesia è la ribellione dell’uomo contro ciò che è.”

61 thoughts on “Cabell on Literature

  1. All the three quotes of Cabell are perfect. His opinion that life is a series of false values are absolutely true . Nature has never created any value as such . It is we who have created one . But all values are meant for maintaining peace in the society as such . For individuals , it hardly matters whether he sticks with those values or not . And values are not absolute . We are falsely busy in creating new and standard values of life . But we fail all the time as there could not be any everlasting value as such . It simply denotes man’s quality and quantity of leniency towards society as such . And in this way Cabell was quite right . Thanks for sharing .

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  2. That first one, in particular. Have you ever thought, when you have a manuscript, you can tweak it. A word here, a word there, to make it more and more perfect. And as soon as it is printed, that’s it. It can neverrmore be altered.

    Do you not think it is strange that even somebody like Shakespeare must have looked at his printed work and kicked himself, because such-and-such a word was a really crass choice?

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      1. I didn’t know him either, apart from the quote from my first post of this series: «The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.»

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  3. I prefer the last sentence: “Poetry is the rebellion of man against what he is.”
    I write poetry because it is a way of thinking to exist, a way of reflecting to explain an existence that sometimes we want to see in a different way… Something like what Descartes said, who could well have said: “do not discard anything” instead of “I think therefore I am”. Good Sunday Louise.

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  4. Anche perché, una volta stampato e pubblicato, non puoi più fare nulla per lui.
    I mille ritocchi, le mille correzioni, le cancellature, i ripensamenti.
    No, ora vive di vita propria, tu puoi solo lasciarlo andare.

    Liked by 1 person

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