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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Human Rites, Writes, Rights or Wrights?

Following the trend set by the Lib Dems, who earlier this week published only the first page of their manifesto, I have given instruction to my agent to publish the first page of my new novel, a forthcoming masterpiece of literary fiction which has been evolving on the den Sushing laptop since the G8 summit, where I sketched the opening chapter to escape the tedium of the plenary speeches. The novel enjoys the phonetic title 'Hjumən  Rajts', leaving you, the perplexed reader, to determine whether the second word is intended to mean 'Rites', 'Rights', 'Writes', 'Wrights', or some subtle combination of those words. So you see, even from the very start, the work raises provocative intellectual questions.

Expected to become an immediate sell-out and collector's item, the highly abridged, first-page version of 'Hjumən  Rajts' is to be available in hardback only, £15.99 rrp, with a handsome dust-jacket featuring a painting by the author. For those too excited to bear the wait, the text of the first page is presented below. Note that any re-production of any portion of the text, except such re-production made solely for charitable purposes, is forbidden and will be punished to the fullest extent allowed by international copyright law.

Hjumən  Rajts
E den Sushing
Savant Press, Nassau
Chief Translator Artema Pantreris

Would you like to know how a1 giant of post-modernism approaches the creation of a masterpiece of literary fiction? Read on! Having devoted my intellectual energies in recent years to my other specialist fields of study- anthropology, neuro-science, quantum cryptography, 'warm neutron' predictive tectonics, didactic gradualism, string theory, global warming, macro economics, computer-aided genomics, semiotics, philology, comparative lexicography, and so on, and so on, and so on- I have embraced an overdue return to my first-love, literary fiction. Just as I write this, my first work of fiction for almost a decade, so you will read it; together we will be, figuratively at least, experiencing the creation of a literary meisterwerk from two perspectives, mine that of the author, and yours that of the enlightened spectator.
For any author creating a novel there are, of course, certain decisions to be made concerning the story to be told: the temporal and geographic settings; the tone of voice; the number, gender, age, and personalities of the main characters; the target length; the chapter structure; the plot- you can imagine the list. A mistake made by merely good and lesser authors is to consider any of these decisions important, when in truth none of them has a role in the creation of a truly 'great' novel. Indeed, what clearer proof of this can there be than the results of my recent work in the application of XLML2 to enable automated 're-skinning' of major works of literature. For example, take my re-skinning of War and Peace3 to become a novel set in the Japan of the early shogunate period; superficially the original and its re-skinned counterpart are as unalike as can be, yet each bears the identical message for humanity.
In fact, the criteria that must be satisfied by a novel if it is to be a great novel are these alone: it must provoke self-improving thought in the mind of the reader; it must entertain; and it must be largely original.
The intelligent and logical reader will conclude that one consequence of the aforementioned criteria is that a truly great novel may not be written in the first person unless  the central narrating character is one able to provoke thought, entertain, and be original. Quite so. However, in my case there is one obvious gambit, which is to write in the first person with myself as the central character. Who, after all, has a better track-record in provoking thought? Who more entertaining? Who more original? So let that choice be considered made. And for my convenience, if no other reason, let us set the novel in the current time, albeit with some flashbacks.

1 Possibly 'the' giant of post-modernism. This part of the Professor's novel was drafted in the p'Tang dialect of Tibet, in which the definite and indefinite articles are written identically (translator's note).
2The eXtensible Literary Mark-up Language. A formal prescription for encoding figures of speech explicitly. See the press statement which accompanied its launch here.
sThe re-skinning was completed with the support of research workers at the IBM Thomas J Watson Research Laboratories, Armonk N.Y. in 2012.

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