Saturday, August 09, 2008

Walter Benjamin, Michael Chabon and "The Storyteller"

Michael Chabon in his introduction to McSweeney's Enchanted Camber of Astonishing Stories: "Like most people who worry about whether to be wrong or right in pronouncing the word genre, I'm always on a lookout for a chance to drop the name of Walter Benjamin. I had planned to do so here. I intended to refer to Benjamin's bottomless essay, "The Storyteller," and to try to employ the famous distinction he makes in it between the "trading salesman," the storyteller who fetches his miracle tales, legends and tall stories from abroad, and the "resident tiller of the soil" in whose memory are stored up all the sharp-witted wisdom tales, homely lore, and useful stories of a community. Benjamin implies that the greatest storytellers are those who possess aspect, to some extent, of both characters, and I was thinking that it might be possible to argue that in the world of the contemporary short story the ""realistic"" (you can't put enough quotation marks aroudn that word) writers come from the tribe of the community-based lore retellers, while the writers of fantasy, horror and sf are the sailors of distant seas, and that our finest and most consistently interesting contemporary writers are those whose works seem to originate from both traditions."

3 Comments:

Blogger Pasyon, Emmanuel C. said...

If you don't mind me asking, what category do you fall in?

12:19 PM  
Blogger frank cimatu said...

the tiller of the soil in the land of the travelling salesmen

12:38 PM  
Blogger Pasyon, Emmanuel C. said...

sayo nagmumula ang mga "miracle tales, legends and tall stories" nung salesman, kung ganun. hehe

feeling ko mga magic realist ang swak na swak sa sinasabi ni papa walter.

12:59 PM  

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