The review for Literary History and Theory


December 15, 2007


Name: Carmen-Nicola Jumara


Citation Recommendation: JUMARA, Carmen-Nicola. „O perspectivă inedită asupra romanului latin”. In: RITL, New Series, XLIV, No. 1-4, January-December 2007, p. 341-357
Pages: 341-357
Language: Romanian
URL: Jumara.pdf

Abstract: Considering that prose works cannot be studied on a chronological basis and that we cannot have a view of the flow of time, E. M. Forster provides a new image, a study method more appropriate for the human possibilities; it’s the image of all the novel writers writing their novels in the same time. The writer has to face different difficulties in his endeavours of creating a convincing work of art, and the means he uses are mostly instinctive and don’t always coincide with the methods the critics adopt. Two of these means are identified by Forster: using more types of characters and the author’s point of view. He suggests the classifying of the characters in two types: flat and round, or linear and complex. We are tempted to take the protagonist of the Satyricon as a flat character due to the fact that he is only the subject of non-essential transformations — they are only nuance transformations. On our opinion, Lucius, the protagonist of the Methamorphoses, represents an exception, a round character, while the other characters are flat. A second challenge the novel writer encounters is the one of the perspective he adopts. We realize that Petronius’s and Apuleius’s perspective represent an element of continuity in the development of the novel. The next feature of the novel under debate is the one of the intrigue. Drawing a distinction between the story and the intrigue, we underline that the first one is a narration of some events, especially based upon curiosity, while the intrigue is also a narration, but it implies also intelligence and good memory, the stress being focused on causality. We can discuss about intrigue in the two Latin novels because every deed, every word matters there, everything is economical and has an organic meaning, even if it is complicated. We wondered whether the novel has to be the result of a plan or if it has to be given the liberty of growing. The modernity of the Latin novels is to be found on this level too, as we find there Gide’s suggestion of using both methods. Forster’s lectures seem to stress upon the idea that there are two forces to be discovered inside a novel: on one side there are the human beings, and on the other side there are a number of elements that are not human beings: the writer has the mission of adjusting and conciliating them by means of fantasy and prophecy. Fantasy and prophecy are quite alike but not identical. Defining fantasy implies supernatural, without necessarily expressing it. Satyricon was the first considered to be „the first work of integral fiction“. The same features are valid for Apuleius’s novel too. The prophetic aspect asks for two virtues, states Forster: humility and inhibiting the sense of humour. But judging from this perspective, both Apouleius and Petronius can hardly be taken for prophets. The last matters that we considered refer to pattern and rhythm. After researching the story, the human beings, the intrigue emerging from the story, it seems but natural to study the elements emerging from the intrigue, to which both the characters and the other elements contribute. Not finding a literary term to denominate them, Forster takes first a word specific to plastic arts (pattern) and then one from the musical terminology (rhythm). Evaluating the Latin novels from an esthetic perspective we can notice that they include different patterns, emerging from the intrigue, and their beauty also comes from the outline. Organizing their rich material by following certain patterns, starting from a well-defined intrigue, the Latin writers succeed into creating unitary works, inside which life is to be seen in all its complexity. The Latin novels also make us feel rhythm, conceived as repetition plus variation, by means of which a special effect is achieved: the reader is less interested in the outline. Considering that they planned their works they succeeded into creating a rhythm too, Petronius and Apuleius created original works. Bz using people as they were, giving their works openness the Latin writers prove to be modern prove to have creative genius; even from the beginning of the first millennium they proved that novel is humanity’s great chance.

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