Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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This is a very intriguing question and I hope some bloggers take it up and we get a nice discussion going. I'll have to think on this for a while, but I do have one thought right off the bat.

I think that one difference between constraint and experimentation is that the products of constrait need not appear experimental. Writers can use constraint to stir things up and get into new territory, but they may very well then integrate those new ideas into a very standard narrative. This concept of constraint fits in with your idea of constraint being simply one of the devices a writer may employ.


A few quick, off the top of the head, comments in prelude to a post at my blog (tomorrow, muses willing):

1. Constraint and experimental is in many ways a difference of degree rather than kind. Many of the examples you cite (Joyce, Nabokov, Coover) are different from many of the works I discuss more in the amount/stricture of a constraint.

2. Constraint is much more about the process than the product. As Scott notes, many constrained will not appear experimental, appear being the important word there, as it is in the process of creation that the experiment is found. Again this can be a matter of degrees of difference from "normal" works.

3. There are some crazy French articles devoted to figuring this definition stuff out. Maybe someday I'll take the time to really work it out and summarize it in English.


A detailed (I hope) reply:

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