de pumilis libellis
…by falsifying him into something monstrously charming and extraordinary they hope to be able to keep him alive forever.
— Pär Lagerkvist (2002.47, p. 159)
Owing to my best efforts to keep an open mind and my almost miraculous attempts to overcome my aversion for the word ‘snark’ and most people who use it, the rather too precious Believer did not really seem intellectually bankrupt until I read the following passage in the ‘Idea Share’:
There should be a historical novel written from the point of view of—or at least deeply investigating the life of—a court midget, such as those we see in the paintings of Diego Velásquez (e.g., Maids of Honor).
Fortunately for readers everywhere,1 it’s been done; the author won the Nobel Prize (for literature, even—tho’ for a different novel). Apparently it was a good idea.2
- Readers who might otherwise have to read yet another bright young twit’s novel, an act which might tend to increase their, um, ‘snarkiness’.
- Which is not to say, of course, that the no-doubt charming folks (I suppress a shudder in writing that word) at The Believer are ignorent of The Dwarf – for, as I understand it, any fool off the street may write in with ideas (many of which are probably good) but it seems to me that if the point is to get more people to appreciate the literature already available (including works written by the aforementioned good folks) a footnote or some mild parenthetical statement might have been appropriate and, dare I say, laudable.