In Case You Hadn’t Heard (Part Two)

[Part One]

‘Edgar Francine. The Man from Bordeaux and all that. Picking up the Cheques and The Holy Wars. Don’t tell me you’ve never read his work? What do they teach you in schools these days?’

My wife’s nephew politely reminds me that he left school several years ago – and that most modern schools do not contain courses on obscure French literature of the early twentieth century. I nod my head gloomily. Well, of course. What did I expect?

Still, this relation of mine is a charming young man – and he won’t end the conversation without letting me have my say; regardless of whether or not he cares for the content.

‘The key word when one considers Edgar Francine,’ I said, ‘is repetition’

‘What?’

‘Repetition’

‘Oh yes’

‘Just like this singer of yours, Francine enjoyed repeating himself. He did it frequently. Human beings are forgetful asses, he believed, and won’t follow anything unless they’ve heard it several times. Beauty can be subtle, he admitted, but subtlety is not for the people. Most readers require signposts. They don’t just want a pretty sentence; they want something assuring them that, yes, they were indeed quite correct in thinking that that was a pretty sentence. And so, whenever he wrote something of which he was either especially fond, or which held particular importance in the narrative, he repeated it. Sometimes a word, sometimes a sentence: sometimes a whole damn paragraph or page. It was, he thought, the only real way to get through to people. The novel isn’t a democracy, he once said: you shouldn’t think that every sentence deserves as much space as the next. Some sentences are more equal than other sentences. Some sentences deserve more space.’

My wife’s nephew nodded eagerly. ‘Oh yes,’ he said: ‘oh yes’.

‘You see, Francine enjoyed repeating himself. He did it frequently. Human beings are forgetful asses, he believed, and won’t follow anything unless they’ve heard it several times. Beauty can be subtle, he admitted, but subtlety is not for the people. Most readers require signposts. They don’t just want a pretty sentence; they want something assuring them that, yes, they were indeed quite correct in thinking that that was a pretty sentence. And so, whenever he wrote something of which he was either especially fond, or which held particular importance in the narrative, he repeated it. Sometimes a word, sometimes a sentence: sometimes a whole damn paragraph or page. It was, he thought, the only real way to get through to people. The novel isn’t a democracy, he once said: you shouldn’t think that every sentence deserves as much space as the next. Some sentences are more equal than other sentences. Some sentences deserve more space.’

My wife’s nephew nodded a little less eagerly.

‘More apple juice?’ I asked.

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