Friday, February 13, 2009

Virtual Mentors III

I wouldn't have thought today's quote was necessarily true, thus its intrigue. But the reference to readers in the final sentence, a la "If a tree falls in a forest... ," clinches it.

From Flannery O’Connor's Mystery and Manners:

When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very good one. The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning.


  1. Hi, MJ! I really like that - the meaning of a piece of writing can't be determined abstractly, but must be experienced by a reader. How cool is that thought?!

  2. I do three (like the quote).

    Truth is, story meaning can be described abstractly but the question is, can the abstract statement be just as convincing? There's a reason story has been the way we processed the difficult life questions for millennia.