Monday, February 07, 2005


Dave Fiore responded to my previous post, "A Pitfall of Long-running Narratives," with a post which is well worth reading in itself, but which revealed that I hadn't made myself sufficiently clear. (That's the trouble with posting when I'm tired.) Here's the comment I posted to Dave's post in hopes of clarifying my position:

I knew I should have explained myself better, rather than hoping that Spurgeon's quote would make my meaning clear. I certainly was not saying that it's potentially a bad thing for events in the later portions of a narrative to depend upon knowledge of the characters, or of earlier events, for their full impact: that would be to reject long narratives entirely. The best I can do is to go back to what R. Fiore said, as far as I can remember: that Schulz, at the time of writing (the late 90s or early 00s, iirc), seemed to approach the strip as if the characters were personal friends of his readers, who would be automatically interested in whatever the characters did. It's the difference between Lucy's coming to fetch Linus being interesting because it's part of an intrinsically interesting story, or because it says something about the real world (although you may need to be familiar with the characters' past histories to get what it's saying), and Lucy's fetching Linus being interesting solely because it's Lucy and Linus. That's what I was trying to get at with my talk of the characters becoming "icons." Of course, whether or not this applies to a particular case is a matter of judgment. And yes (to anticipate another objection), it is possible for a "self-referring" narrative to say something indirectly about the real world, as I tried to indicate with my reference to Krazy Kat; but I don't think that the "self-referring" tendencies in late Peanuts and recent Locas and Luba stories serve such a purpose, though I'm open to argument on both counts. (I can't speak to Marvel Comics, as I've read very little of them.)

(And just to avoid misunderstanding, what I'm talking about has no necessary connection with metafiction.)

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