Nietzsche laments, in Beyond Good and Evil: "What a torment books written in German are for him who has a third ear." If prose is to be as well written as poetry--the old modernist hope--novelists and readers must develop their own third ears. We have to read musically, testing the precision and rhythm of a sentence, listening for the almost inaudible rustle of historical association clinging to the hems of modern words, attending to patterns, repetitions, echoes, deciding why one metaphor is successful and another is not, judging how the perfect placement of the right verb or adjective seals a sentence with mathematical finality.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The third ear
From James Wood, How Fiction Works: