The Turn of the Novel (2)

In fiction, those moments–or those many pages–which render a central character’s realization that life has become morally impossible are often accompanied (is it only in fiction?) by the onset of illness and fever: the very intensity of the moral explosion brings on a physical deterioration. And not infrequently, those fully expanded and intensified moments in the structure are also accompanied by the suggestion of mental derangement–hallucination or insanity. Perhaps we are justified in regarding these processes as literary “rituals” or conventions…which not only render by also mark the fullness of the formal expansion of experience.

–Alan Friedman, 1966

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