That’s a quote from my favorite Edward Said book, Reflections on Exile. I re-read certain essays in that collection every year. Right now I’m reading “History, Geography, and Literature.” In it, he discusses Auerbach (Said wrote the intro to Mimesis) and Vico and Hegel and Marx and Lukacs and Gramsci . According to Said, the most brilliant description of the novel was penned by Lukacs:
The novel is the epic of a world that has been abandoned by God. The novel hero’s psychology is demonic; the objectivity of the novel is the mature man’s knowledge that meaning can never quite penetrate reality, but that, without meaning, reality would disintegrate into nothingness or inessentiality…Irony, without intuitive double vision, can see where God is to be found in a world abandoned by God…Irony…is the highest freedom that can he achieved in a world without God. That is why it is not only the sole possible a priori condition for a true, totality-creating objectivity but also why it makes that totality-the novel- the representative art-form of our age: because the structural categories of the novel constitutively coincide with the world as it is today.
What I love is how he brings all these theorists together to birth a real understanding of how to read, which, to me, translates to how to write. And then he ties it all in with Arab intellectuals and the thrust towards “modernity”. It’s a brilliant piece. I heart Edward… allah yerhamu, may he rest in peace.