Ownership and The Real

There’s an interesting (and unplanned) dovetail between my piece on the novel that came out in Boston Review this month (which I wrote, for the most part, last summer) and my review of Marcus Boon’s In Praise of Copying, which I wrote in January but just appeared in The New Republic online yesterday. One is about questions of imagined ownership over the novel (in other words, who gets to set the rules and act as a gatekeeper?); the other is about questions of actual ownership in the realm of copyright. Which is to say that they are both about the relationship between our understanding of the real (which we might think, superficially, to exist purely in the realm of subjective experience) and the exercise of power—legal, moral, cultural, and economic (which is, obviously, public and communal).

It’s easy to treat the realm of fiction as wholly removed from questions of power, and we have to grant fiction, as an art form, a certain separate status, outside of the normative realm of argument entirely. But #1 does not necessarily follow from #2, as many critics seem to believe. Fiction and power: this is what I’ve got on the brain these days.

More to come.

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