Famous Quotes Explained: « An author should be in a book like the police in the city: everywhere and nowhere, » Journal, Memoirs of Literary Life, Goncourt Brothers, 1887-1896.


Famous Quotes Explained: « An author should be in a book like the police in the city: everywhere and nowhere, » Journal, Memoirs of Literary Life, Goncourt Brothers, 1887-1896.

The Goncourt brothers, Edmond and Jules Goncourt, were two famous French writers of the 19th century known for their literary collaboration. As naturalist novelists (for example, Germinie Lacerteux in 1865), they are primarily recognized for the literary prize bearing their name. Journal, Memoirs of Literary Life is a personal journal that compiles their observations on the literary and artistic life of their era. It spans forty-five years from 1851 to 1896 and began publication in 1887.

Journal, Memoirs of Literary Life is a significant work that provides a fascinating insight into the literary and artistic scene of 19th-century France. It documents not only their own experiences and opinions but also their encounters with numerous writers, artists, and personalities of the time. It served as a valuable source of information about the intellectual world of that period and sparked sharp criticisms and controversies because the Goncourt brothers were uncompromising and critical.

The quote An author should be in a book like the police in the city: everywhere and nowhere can be interpreted as a reflection on the author’s role in their own work. The comparison with the police defines the author’s role.

They must remain in control of their work, but without the reader feeling their presence too much, just as the police must control the city without being overly conspicuous. This idea reflects the literary stance of the Goncourt brothers, who, as symbols of naturalism, believed that the author should fade into the background behind the narrative to make it more realistic. In other words, the author should be omnipresent in the creation of their book, but once the book is finished, they should allow the reader to fully immerse themselves in the work’s universe without their own presence being overwhelming.

This quote reflects the perspective of the Goncourt brothers on writing and can also be interpreted as an invitation to the author to find a balance between expressing their own voice and creating a space for readers to interpret and engage with the work in their own way.

An author should be in a book like the police in the city: everywhere and nowhere.

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