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November 21, 2004


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You say a lot here, so I'll just scribble some quick thoughts, without arguments or explanations.

--What you say about James Morrow shows that there are Big Idea novelists out there. They may not be hugely popular, but neither was Melville.

--Don DeLillo is a Big Idea novelist and he's immensely popular. Same goes for Thomas Pynchon, Mark Leyner, and some others.

--The Social Novel/Big Idea novel distinction is tenuous at best, anyway. Dostoevsky was writing about people more than he was writing about metaphysical questions, in that he was writing about people dealing (or not dealing) with metaphysical questions. The same goes for Melville.

--The rise of science itself explains why Big Idea novels must be science fiction. We may feel further and further from God and yet science has shown us, more so than ever, How God Works.

--Contemporary American intellectual culture is skeptical and ironic. Big Ideas in particular are suspect, especially insofar as they are a distraction from Human Feeling. The novel, in the European tradition, is about Human Feeling.

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