The (Diblos) Notebookby James Merrill
Best known as a poet, James Merrill is also an accomplished novelist, and in The (Diblos) Notebook artfully lays bare the process of writing a novel. A young American writer keeps a notebook that records at one and the same time a series of events on the Greek island of Diblos in which he is deeply involved, and his attempts to transform these events into a novel. Everything that might be found in such a notebook is used here with great cunning: the false starts that end in the middle of a thought; the endless revisions, canceled out in the search for the right word or phrase; the many approaches and backtrackings as the writer seeks an entrance to the materials through several possible doors; the musings on how the material is to be treated; and the wrestlings with the problem of appearance and assumed reality. The author has written an afterword for this edition of his 1965 novel.
"The (Diblos) Notebook is a delightful and sad picture of the Hesitation Waltz of creation. It has a fallen angel, the writer, for its hero-villain. I don't know of any book that deals so honestly with the sin of consciousness, and its island setting is a little paradise lost. I read it with pangs of recognition." (Mary McCarthy)
"This is the kind of novel it is a pleasure to take seriously, a disciplined, adventurous performance in the best tradition of fictional experiment." (Wilfrid Sheed, New York Times Book Review)
"The (Diblos) Notebook is a genuine and unpretentious work of art. . . . Its true subject is its own manner and style, its elusive, almost furtive brilliance, so that the book really is about the poetic impression, the quick insight, the misunderstanding, the discarded sketch as opposed to the constructed and finished museum piece." (John Thompson, New York Review of Books)
"Sparkles with poetic dialogue and description and is full of a wry humor which is alternately sophisticated and mocking in the best mock-heroic satiric tradition. . . . This is a fine, important, and eminently readable novel, highly recommended." (Library Journal 4-15-65)
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Meet the Author
James Merrill (1926-1995) was renowned for the elegance and humane complexity of his work, and is considered the leading lyric poet of his generation. His travels around the worldwith their displacements and discoveriesare the subject of many of his poems, but at heart he was an autobiographical poet whose "chronicles of love and loss" tracked the heart as poignantly as a poet ever has. In his huge epic poem on occult themes, in his enthralling narrative poems, or in his small exquisite lyrics, he wrote in a distinctively urbane and engaging voice that made his career one of the wonders of contemporary poetry.
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