Sunday, July 05, 2009

Fragment 4709

Barthes gives a list of projected books, ones which he would have liked to have written had not other things got in the way. He calls these prolepses: postponements, sketches, introductions, rather than the books themselves. Borges does a similar thing with his spurious intertextuality and the fictional titles in his libraries.

Barthes’s prolepses, and Borges’s fictional titles allow the reader to create unreal books in the imagination. These unwritten books are surprisingly similar to the memories of books one has actually read, in that these latter are also mere traces in the imagination, like traces of flavour on the palate, ghosts, half discerned images, a feeling or a mood of a book, a gesture, a colouring, an unfulfillable curiosity.

My prolepses:
➢ A fiction about Napoleon’s last years on St Helena
➢ A parallel study of the lives and works of Keats and Schubert
➢ A fiction about Li Lien-ying, the Chief Eunuch of the Last Empress of China
➢ A fiction about Jan van Eyck as a spy for the Duke of Burgundy
➢ A queer study of the works of Henry James
➢ A pedagogical grammar of the English language
➢ A fiction about Parry and Lord recording and studying oral traditions in the Balkans and discovering the Oral Formulaic Theory (this is fantasy, remember, these things don’t actually have to sell)
➢ A fiction about the young Dickens in the year 1836, negotiating with his publishers and illustrators on what was to become The Pickwick Papers
➢ A study of the influence of Keats on fin de siecle decadence and aestheticism
➢ A study of the dynamic between Humanism and Christianity in the work of W.H.Auden
➢ A comparative study of Hopkins and Whitman
Tales of the Bicameral: a fiction of Murr’s astonishing life on Formosa, incorporating the Lost Papers of Dr Mucus
➢ A transcription of the table talk of Chavenet
➢ A study of the influence on Dickens of Carlyle
➢ A study of the prison literature of Dostoevsky, Wilde, Genet, Primo Levi, and Koestler
➢ A study of framing devices in literature
➢ A fiction about Diderot’s struggle to complete the Encyplodeia

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