Gotta Love Lit

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Don’t You Lie to Me – Blog #13

Posted by RachelE on June 28, 2011

When I write a paper or work hard on a piece of writing, the last thing I want to hear about it is criticism. I expect everyone to love it as much as I do, and woe to the one who insults my writing. However, Macedonio Fernandez doesn’t seem to think this way. In his book, The Museum of Eterna’s Novel (The First Good Novel), Fernandez claims that:

The greatest risk one runs in publishing a novel at this stage in life is that nobody knows your age; mine is 73, and I hope that it will rescue me from a potential judgment such as: “For the First Good Novel it isn’t bad at all, and since it’s the author’s first novel, we predict a brilliant future, if he perseveres in his aesthetic conjurings with strong will and discipline. In any case, we’ll await his future work before rendering a definitive judgment.” (Fernandez 10)

Fernandez wants people to criticize his novel. He wants the critics to judge his novel as an isolated piece of literature, without being biased due to his previous works or the promise of future ones. This desire of an author to have his work fairly critiqued was seen with Miguel de Cervantes and his novel, Don Quixote of La Mancha. In the prologue of the book, Cervantes explains to the reader that:

[…] If a father should happen to sire an ugly and ill-favored child, the love he bears it claps a bandage over his eyes and so blinds him to its faults that he reckons them as talents and graces and cites them to his friends as examples of wit and elegance. But I, who appear to be Don Quixote‘s father, am in reality his stepfather and do not intend to follow the usual custom, nor to beg you, almost with tears in my eyes, as others do, dearest reader, to pardon or dissemble the faults you may see in this child of mine. (Cervantes 41)

Like Fernandez, this quote is Cervantes’ warning to the reader. While many authors see their novels as flawless works of perfection containing ideas that cannot be disputed, Cervantes feels differently. He knows his work is imperfect. One can even say Cervantes desires the reader to critique his work and find faults with it. Cervantes refuses to call himself the father of Don Quixote, and rather, seems to feel more like a stepfather. Even Cervantes himself can see the imperfections and impending criticisms of his work, just like Fernandez.

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