Stochastic Bookmark

abstruse unfinished commentary

about correspondence


Style ... the army in which all kinds of weapons may come into play

Isaac Babel, The Collected Stories (trans Walter Morison ['55 ed]): In Red Cavalry Babel does battle with words and with himself, each story a sortie but also part of a larger campaign. The 1920 diary is also out there (and in the Compete Works) for those interested in collating fact and fiction, and his life story is as compelling as the writing based thereon, but conflating them obscures both. However interesting its genesis, Red Cavalry stands alone, without need of footnotes (nor of Trilling's intro, displaying all LT's worst qualities), more a novel than a collection of stories (despite construction by accretion), and the interrelations among the vignettes have been given due attention, but generally within an imposed framework (biography being one among many). Not that the vignettes don't work in isolation, as Babel's stylistry can carry them, but that they are far richer in combination. Not that his other stories aren't rich without it, either. The blogpost-title is the bit that precedes the most commonly extracted literary quotation, from his "Maupassant": "No iron can stab the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place." Likewise, the following sentence further alters the contextual sense (consensually), back towards the story (and it should be observed that the local context is also translation). In a literary context, he can be as tight as Tolstoy (as with him).


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