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May 4, 2009
Michael Innes, "Hamlet, Revenge!" (1937), p.43.
A respectable author named
Piper interrogates an
English prof and author of I wonder if English teachers and
mystery novels named Gott: the great (now nearly forgotten)
war on the word "got" have
"... 'Would you say', he something to do with that name.
asked solemnly, 'that
fiction proper and A minor character
narrative melodrama are in this novel is
absolutely distinct kinds?'" named Gervase
"'I doubt if there is
necessarily an absolute line. Apparently this was the
Dickens wrote a mix-up of novel source for Bruce
and melodrama -- and very Montgomery's psuedonym,
successfully.' Gott paused to "Edmund Crispin"
turn on the shower. 'Of course
fiction commonly uses a finer And *those* stories
brush all through. It avoids are about a Gervase
labels except where they are Fen, a bit of fan
functionally necessary: Hot, worship for Gideon
Cold. Melodrama runs on big Fell.
splashy labels: Bath Mat. None
of your aristocratic restraint.' And thereafter,
And Gott pointed to the Innes actually
unembellished cork surface at uses "Bath Mat"
his feet." as a shorthand trope
for "melodramatic motif
"Piper ... turned from trope". cliche
question to statement. 'I symbol
think myself that they come stereotype
from different parts of the archetype...?
mind. Fiction belongs to
what's called the The words used the over-romantic
Imagination. Melodrama to make this and under-realized
belongs to the Fancy; it's distinction are
a bubbling up of the startling. I can see
suppressed primitive, a why you'd
subconscious on holiday, The melodrama is *want* a
_fantasy_.'" *less imaginative* short tag
than the realistic for this
"... 'My waking life is given drama? That's not notion...
to imaginative writing -- something you hear but "Bath
writing in which the chief very often. Mat"?
concern is values. But my
dreams, like melodrama, are Maybe: genre fiction How is a
very little concerned with lacks imagination mundane
values. The whole interest is because it is household
on a tooth and claw level. generic? But how item to
Attack and escape, hunting much imagination to serve as
trapping, outwitting. A mimic the mundane? a stand-in
consciousness all the time of for this
physical action, of material And the idea that invocation
masses, and dispositions as high fiction is of archetype?
elements in a duel. And, of concerned with values
course, the constant sense of and the low with raw Is this the
obscurity or mystery that sensation seems "call the
haunts dreams. If I wrote a peculiar by today's big guy
melodrama it would be out of my light. tiny" joke?
Popular fiction often What an
"'And what of Shakespeare's contains some sort of ear for
drama of primitive intrigue, morality play, and words...
_Hamlet_? Is that an example of the literary world
the melodramatic and the often seems concerned
imaginative working together?'" with recording
low-level emotion and
"Piper meditated. 'Perhaps', experience (if not
he said, 'it's a failure on that often of a very
account. The melodramatic "sensational" variety).
material taken over by
Shakespeare may not have been
susceptible -- ' ..."
"'I probably suppress the
melodramatic in myself: I don't
read it, for one thing. But it's
there waiting to bubble up. And
as it doesn't get into my writing
it would like, I think, to get
into my life. If a sort of
Ruritania came my way-- cloak and
sword adventure-- I would jump at
"Gott sometimes permitted himself
a mysterious Oriental who was
credited -- on what he had
described to Piper as the Bath Mat
principle -- with moving like a
cat." -- p. 57
reaching for a standardized
hot button, a known complex
with easily recognized
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