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Topic: Literary impressionism 101

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Subject: Literary impressionism 101
Date Posted: 10/13/2014 1:39 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2009
Posts: 25,000
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Every once in a while I am reminded of just how much of a simpleton I am. Clearly I did not major in English.

I am currently reading "These Thousand Hills" by A.B. Guthrie. I am a big fan of Mr. Guthrie's work. I devoured the Dick Summer's trilogy way back when, but this book is different and I could not put my finger on why. 

It's not smooth reading. The narrative is choppy. One chapter we're here and the next we are there and there are little if no smooth transitions. The western dialogue which I love is sparse and that makes a little sad because I love to read the palaverin' of "old Pards." 

The poet in me, however, is thrilled with the beautiful descriptions in this novel. There are parts so lovely that I've almost taken a pen to the book to underline them. There is another scene, however, which is so sad and gruesome that I don't know if I want to pick up the book again. 

Anyway, I decided to read what other folks think of the book and I can't be the only one struggling to follow the story. I mean, I get the story, but why is seemingly so disjointed? 

Well, come to find out there's this style of writing called impressionism and Mr Guthrie was apparently trying his hand at it.



Here's some info I shamelessly lifted off the web:


In literature, impressionist writers exhibit some or all of these characteristics:


·        They use a narrative style that is intentionally ambiguous, placing more responsibility on the reader to form his or her own conclusions about events within the novel, rather than relying on the narrator.


·        They often describe the action through the eyes of the character while the events are occurring, rather than providing details after the character has already processed the action.  The result is sometimes like being in an accident – where everything appears to be moving in slow motion.  All of the details seem unclear.


·        They’re concerned with the “emotional landscape” of the setting.  They’re interested in the ways the setting evokes certain emotional responses from both the characters and the reader.


·        They employ details in such a way that it’s sometimes difficult to see a clear picture of events if you focus on the details too closely.  Much like an impressionistic painting, it’s only possible to get a full picture once you stand back from the novel and view it in its entirety.


·        They often avoid a chronological telling of events.  Instead, they give the reader information in a way that forces them to focus on how and why things happen, rather than on the order in which they occur.



And all you English teachers and majors and generals are all probably hootin' and hollerin' at my ignorance. cheeky That's okay. I learned something.





Last Edited on: 10/13/14 1:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1