Saturday, June 06, 2009

Reasons to write novels #34

You learn more profoundly if you have to work it out.

Here's St Augustine:

no one disputes that is is much more pleasant to learn lessons presented through imagery, and much more rewarding to discover meanings that are won only with difficulty.
(On Christian Teaching

(You could say much more about this quote. For example, Augustine also thought that a 'helpful and healthy obscurity' was a characteristic of the scriptures, and shouldn't be a characteristic of Christian teachers; those questions could be argued; but leave that aside for a moment, or imagine he is just talking about parables.)

Boccaccio in his Life of Dante (1374) made a similar remark about poetry:

It is obvious that everything that is acquired with toil has more sweetness in it than that which comes without trouble. The plain truth, because it is so quickly understood with little effort, delights us, and is forgotten. So, in order that truth acquired by toil should be more pleasing and that it should be better preserved, the poets concealed it under matters that appeared to be wholly contrary to it. They chose fables, rather than any other form of concealment, because their beauty attracts those whom neither philosophic demonstrations nor persuasions could have touched ... [poets] are profoundly intelligent in their methods, as regards the hidden fruit, and of an excellent and beautiful eloquence as regards the bark and visible leaves.

Both these quotations are lifted directly from the discussion on storytelling in Jules Lubbock's art history book, Storytelling in Christian Art from Giotto to Donatello.