Divine Hangers: on the critical rigour of the Q-Q

Clare Stephenson, Genet Portrait, 2003, pencil on paper, 43.5 x 32 cm

Clare Stephenson, Genet Portrait, 2003, pencil on paper, 43.5 x 32 cm

They are lifeless lay figures pulled about by wire; they are cleverly put together, but the wood and the steel skeletons support merely stuffed puppets with whom the author deals most cruelly, jerking them into the strangest poses, contorting them…cutting up their bodies and souls – but because they have no flesh and blood all he can do is tear up the rags out of which they are made; all this is done with considerable historical and rhetorical talent and a vivid imagination; without these qualities he could not have produced these abominations. (qtd. Lukács, 1978: 94)

Goethe

Lukács, sceptical of the extent to which Zola had adhered to the ‘scientific’ model in the realisation of his greatest fictions ultimately welcomed the failure.  The ‘scientific” method’, he insisted, ‘always seeks the average, and this grey statistical mean, the point at which all internal contradictions are blunted, spells the doom of great literature’ (Lukács, 1978: 91). Nevertheless he called it “a strange element of tragedy’ that ‘Zola, who criticised so vehemently the romantic lapses of his peers could only escape the counter artistic consequences’ of his own dogma through a romanticism of the ‘Victor Hugo stamp’ (Lukács, 1978: 91). Read more →