The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers by Ayn Rand
In 1958, Ayn Rand, already the world-famous author of such bestselling books as "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead", gave a private series of extemporaneous lectures in her own living room on the art of fiction. Tore Boeckmann and Leonard Peikoff for the first time now bring readers the edited transcript of these exciting personal statements. "... (See the whole review)
I shall argue that we must accept that literature’s particular manner of engaging with reality is sui generis, so much so that it constitutes its own form of insight and worldly investigation. This implies, among other things, that we should abandon what we might call the philosophy-by-other-means view of literature, and in general any defence of literary humanism that attempts to model literature on a theory of how other sorts of texts can have cognitive value, say by showing them [literary works] to mimic philosophical works, perhaps by being a thought experiment in literary disguise, a sort of dramatic “proof,” an exercise in moral reasoning by example, and other similar things we in no obvious sense find when we look inside the majority of literary works. In making a case for this, I shall argue that literature’s cognitive achievements are intimately bound up with its artist and aesthetic—especially dramatic—achievements. . . . [Literature explores] the real by tracing the link between the conceptual and the cultural. . . . Literature turns out to offer what is best described as a fulfillment of the knowledge we bring to it, a completion of our understanding of how our concepts and words function to unite us with others and our world.
More than usual in novels, Rand’s contain express exemplifications of many of her own and contrary philosophic views. That is not all that is happening in her fiction, and Gibson’s book may provide some complement to Rand’s own analysis of literature concerning those other happenings.