July 30, 2010 at 12:26 pm #555yournicMember
I just finished the terrible privacy of maxwell sim a few days ago and I loved it. I see the obvious B.S. Johnson connections, but does anyone else feel that the structure of Maxwell Sim reminds them of a Touch of Love and/or that the characters of Maxwell and Robin share a similar bond?August 5, 2010 at 2:27 pm #732jonathanKeymaster
Glad to hear that you enjoyed Maxwell Sim. You are right, of course, that structurally it has a lot in common with A Touch of Love – although in fact, what I do in the new novel is a kind of reversal of the old one: in ATOL you had mainly third-person narration, with the four short stories supposedly written by Robin in order to take you further inside his head; in TPOMS you have mainly first-person narration, with the four short stories included to take you outside Maxwell, and to show you him from different perspectives. As for whether the two characters have anything in common, I guess that all my male protagonists are very much the same – passive, indecisive, melancholy, prone to nostalgia … Perhaps it’s about time I started making them a bit more heroic …
JonathanAugust 5, 2010 at 2:59 pm #734uppaMember
Well, Yournic, first of all thanks for reminding me that I hadn’t read A Touch of Love yet, though I’d bought a while ago… Anyway, yes, I found some similarities in the structure, in particular the stories within the main plot and maybe a few narrator’s intrusions. And certainly both Robin and Maxwell are depressed and unsure about what to do with their lives, but their (and their author’s) circumstances and their ages are patently different, and so is the way they are explored. Paradoxically Jonathan seems to have had more sympathy for the female characters than for Robin; Emma in particular comes out as round and full of depth as all the other women in his novels. While Maxwell is expressly fictional but very realistic, Robin, an expressly autobiographic character, seems to be observed from a distance; even his end is not so shocking. In fact, A Touch of Love doesn’t have either the really hilarious or the deeply tragic moments that can be found in other novels, including MS; it is generally sombre, set in a dim light. I’d say it reflects the mood Jonathan must have been in at 26, though possibly (and fortunately…) taken to extremes.
Besides, when I started reading I had the impression that the narration was sort of strange and immature but then I realized it must have been a device to reproduce Ted’s "view" of the story, in spite of it being told in the 3rd person. The rest of the novel shows all the signs that Jonathan was going to become a great writer.August 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm #735jonathanKeymaster
From the Touch of Love page on this site:
"Originally the whole of the first section of A Touch of Love (‘The Meeting of Minds’) was written in the first person, from the point of view of Robin’s friend Ted. Anna Haycraft also objected to this idea, and asked me to change it to a conventional third-person narrative, which I did."
I think this explains the uncertainty in the narrative voice at the beginning of the book. Maybe when I get around to revising them all …
JAugust 5, 2010 at 4:22 pm #736uppaMember
I don’t think you should revise that first part though, because, seen in the light of the rest of the book, it works.
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