[jahsonic.com] - [Next >>]
Related: experimental literature
Digressions in literature
Digression is a section of a composition or speech that is an intentional change of subject.
In literature, the digression (not to be confused with subplot) was a substantial part of satiric works of the 18th century. Works such as Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub, Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Diderot's Jacques le fataliste et son maître made digressiveness itself a part of the satire. Sterne's novel, in particular, depended upon the digression, and he wrote, "Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine; -- they are the life, the soul of reading; -- take them out of this book (Tristram Shandy) for instance, -- you might as well take the book along with them." This use of digression as satire later showed up in Thomas Carlysle's work. The digression was also used for non-satiric purposes in fiction. In Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, the author has numerous asides and digressive statements that are a side-fiction, and this sort of digression within chapters shows up later in the work of Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Herman Melville, Victor Hugo and others. The novels of Tolstoi, J.D. Salinger, Marcel Proust, Henry Miller, Milan Kundera and Robert Musil are also full of digressions.
In late twentieth-century literature (in postmodern fiction), authors began to use digressions as a way of distancing the reader from the fiction and for creating a greater sense of play. John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman and Lawrence Norfolk's Lempriere's Dictionary both employ digressions to offer scholarly background to the fiction, while others, like Gilbert Sorrentino in Mulligan Stew, use digression to prevent the functioning of the fiction's illusions. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digression [May 2006]
See also: satire - novel - fiction
your Amazon recommendations - Jahsonic - early adopter products