The Harper’s Essay” [“Perchance to Dream”] is retitled “Why Bother?” in Jonathan Franzen’s collection of essays “How to Be Alone”. So begins Jonathan Franzen’s famous essay, “Perchance to Dream,” which appeared in Harper’s fifteen years ago this month. The essay. In his now famous essay “Perchance to Dream: In an Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels,” published by Harper’s Magazine in April,

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According to Heath, young readers also need to find a person with whom they can share their interest. George Steiner said that an intellectual is someone who can’t read a book without a pencil in his or her hand. One evening a student reported that his contemporary fiction class had been encouraged to xream an entire hour debating whether the novelist Leslie Marmon Silko was a homophobe. Reading is engaging and requires alone time.

That is the lesson I owe James Wood for teaching me, better than I was able to teach it to myself.

Why Bother? by Jonathan Franzen

By the early nineties I was as depressed as the pervhance city of fiction. I would pass by a sentence and then startle back toward it, realizing the fatal slackness of its language. Recently a melon was brought, and as I cut it and at it I was oddly affected. This was my junior year of college — relatively late for someone who now writes and reads “professionally.

Howell to propose to her although the only words he had ever spoken to her were How are you?

But they do so with the understanding that they can no longer depend on drwam material, as William Dean Howells and Upton Sinclair and Harriet Beecher Stowe did, but only on their own sensibilities, and with the expectation that no one will be reading them for news. The thing about the comparison to Soulja Boy is that the comparison is unfair.

Inthanks to percjance semester sabbatical, I read more than usual. These were unhappy days. Email Subscription Enter go email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications pfrchance new posts by email. I was torturing the story, stretching it to accommodate ever more of those things-in-the-world that impinge on the enterprise of fiction writing.


It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. The invitation to leave your depression behind, whether through medication or therapy or effort of will, seems like an invitation to turn your back on all your dark insights into the corruption and infantilism and self-delusion of the brave new McWorld. The Jersey is the best rugby book to be… twitter. Ditto the writer who wants to offend prevailing sensibilities.

A reduced context but a more intense one. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: We live amid a constant high-tech, high-revenue din: Language is important in a novel, obviously, but frqnzen so than in poetry, where the sense of distillation makes it overarchingly vital. Readers and writers are united in their need for solitude, in their pursuit of substance in a time of ever-increasing evanescence: I watched a lot of TV and ate a lot of Doritos.

Perchance to dream | Harper’s Magazine

A Story of Obsession” by RobinHarvie is a nice read. Instead, Hollinghurst works quietly, like a poet, goading all the words in his sentences — nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs — into a stealthy equality. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: It is ironic that the focus of this page essay was a return to tragic realism in the spirit of novelists like Charles Dickens and Upton Sinclair.

So I began to cut as ruthlessly as possible, and just as importantly to elide plot, to remove connective tissue, to cede control of the book to the reader. This is very, very difficult to uncover in an interview.

If you wanted to watch a show, you had to sit down in front of your set at the prescribed time and watch it. They welter from start to finish. As an unashamed elitist, an avatar of the printed word, and a genuinely solitary man, he belongs to a species so endangered as to be all but irrelevant in an age of electronic democracy. Say what you want, but that hardly quailifies as cultural relevance except to true believers pechance making things up.


Iris Murdoch said it best: Unfortunately even writing that sentence makes me feel uneasy. How was I going to satirize Internet boosterism and the Dow Jones as well while leaving room for the complexities of character and locale?

books that matter: “Perchance to Dream” by Jonathan Franzen in Harper’s Magazine

Tragic realism preserves access to the dirt behind the dream of Chosenness — to the human difficulty beneath the technological ease, to the sorrow behind the pop-cultural narcosis: I was depressed, though, to learn that several of my best writers had vowed never to take a literature class again.

Superficially, at least, regionalism is still thriving. The writer writes to remediate aloneness, not to guarantee connection with other individuals—but at least to create the possibility of connection with others. In his assessment one of his most profound to me of W. Of the poet Hilali ‘s new work, he writes: After capturing and failing to keep Samarkand and other cities in modern-day Uzbekistan, Babur makes for Afghanistan, then India. During this period of personal disillusionment, Franzen came to be acquainted with Shirley Brice Heatha linguistic anthropologist from Stanford.

Especially when abstaining from drinking, how can one allow oneself to forget a licit pleasure like melons and grapes? ByattPaul Austerthis last to devastating effect — often have an element of magic in their works, and a fair criticism of Wood might be that he restricts his affections to books that even when they are fanciful make total sensewhich sounds like a fair metric until you think about it.