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The Writers Forum at SUNY Brockport

John Gardner -- Fiction

Host(s): John R. Maier and Paul Ferguson

Tape order number: C-380

Visit Date: October 5, 1977

Length: 54 minutes

Brief Summary: Gardner says that good fiction is moral fiction. He discusses the merits of "unrealistic" over realistic novels, and says that plot and setting exist only to develop and feed character. Gardner discusses the problems of existentialism and asserts the primacy of history in shaping our lives. He talks about metafiction as being fiction that the reader is conscious of as fiction. Gardner also talks at length about Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales.

Work(s) Discussed:

  • On Moral Fiction
  • October Light
  • The King's Indian

Work(s) Read:

  • Selection from Grendl

Writers mentioned:

  • J. O'Hara
  • F. Dostoyevsky
  • Nietzche
  • J. Barth
  • W. Gass
  • T. Pynchon
  • W. Levy
  • S. Elkins
  • J. Milton
  • H. James
  • V. Hugo
  • R.L. Stevenson
  • W. Scott
  • H. Fielding
  • W. Faulkner
  • E. Hemingway
  • J. Hawks
  • J.C. Oates

What's moral in fiction is its way of looking; it's not what it says.

-- John Gardner

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