The Art of the Novel

Fiction is, above all others, the art of artifice. 

From this module I have discovered that the book is not simply a text with a spine. Instead I have found out about books as vellum, parchment leaves, grimoires, memories, meta-fictions, interactive games, e-books… and so on. This has enlightened me into the materiality of the book and it’s non fixed state.

Having previously noted that many forms of books require the reader to do the work, make choices or interact with it, I decided to bring a normal novel to life.

In my last blog I revealed Briony Tallis as the author of Ian McEwan’s Atonement and through my project I have brought her novel to life.

The final section of Atonement has been removed and instead has been created into diary/letter form to reflect the personal element of this section, but to also separate it from the main novel to make Briony’s book really come to life. Like Nox, I recreated images, formed tears on specific lines and also made my handwriting more messy to look like a more authentic diary.

Within the novel there are many various forms of writing: love letters, critics and plays. To remove the ‘assumed fixity’ of the book I have turned these elements into essentially interactive fiction for the reader.

Similarly, Atonement is filled with intertextuality and a lot of it has been purposely mentioned. Instead if having the readers simple read about Auden, I wanted to give the reader Auden. Almost like a modern-day interactive fiction. Atonement is essentially a book that comments on the art of the novel and all that goes into it, even if that means borrowing a few pieces from here and there.

This was perhaps most evident in part two and three of Atonement, so in turn I restored these parts (or some) of them to their original authors, such as Lucilla Andrews.

Essentially, my aim was to make a project to reflect what I have discovered on this module. Books are objects. They can be in any shape or form. They are what the reader makes of them. Following on from my ‘Death of the author’ blogs, I wanted to explore this within my project. I believe I have done thus through removing Ian McEwan completely from the process and instead have left a memoir of Briony Tallis and her Two Figures by a Fountain. As Briony is unable to publish her book during her life, I have created this box as a memory of her, through her novel, her first play, her thoughts and two poems by Auden about the novelist and happy endings. Overall, I have transformed Atonement into a completely different form to essentially bring Briony’s book alive and to remove the real author, as now the reader can choose if they read the real truth of Atonement.

In reflection of this project, there were many demanding tasks involved.

– Trying to transform a reasonably lengthy novel was challenging as it took a lot of time trying to find the intertextuality, composing various letters, researching various novels and deciding which parts were the most important.

– Deciding on what form to produce Briony’s 1999 section was interesting, but eventually I decided upon a diary/letter blend as best for such a personal matter.

– With all the added intertextuality, snippets and letters, it was difficult to retain the novel’s neatness as my brain is a lot more creative than my hands.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed this module and project. As I really enjoy interactive books with letters and various materials, I couldn’t wait to transform my own. This module has only enhanced my love for books and I have enjoyed having my own voice on the topic , whilst making me wonder where the book is headed. For now I believe it’s firmly here to stay, even if the author leaves and the e-book continues…



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