The Expansive Nature of Experimental Fiction as an Ideal

Daniel Green over at The Reading Experiment concludes the end of a book review with a definition for experimental fiction:

In my opinion truly experimental or innovative or adventurous fiction attempts to expand the possibilities of fiction as a literary form and does so for the sake of the form itself, not to amplify social or cultural criticism or to intervene in philosophical debates (although these things might be an indirect effect, as is often enough the case in all worthwhile fiction).

The issue appears to be whether experimental fiction can be defined, whereby Green decides that such fiction must push the form, for the sake of the form, forward.

There is nothing wrong with propagating social/cultural/philosophical discourse, but that is not the primary “attempt” (Green’s word) of the experimental novel.

For most of the last century, readers were whipped into believing they must assume some sort of social/cultural/philosophical discourse as the author’s primary “attempt” or purpose or reason for writing. True, most fictional texts are not exempt from these types of analysis, but how should the “general reader” prioritize them? Should readers question themselves, as Green does, as to why they inherently assume social/cultural/philosophical “debates” function as prioritized parts of the primaries that constitute the writer’s purpose for penning an experimental novel?

Others may argue that in Green’s line of reasoning—fiction [that] attempts to expand the possibilities of fiction as a literary form and does so for the sake of the form itself—is itself a social, cultural, and philosophical judgment, but such a recognition assumes Green to be a Critic of the experimental novel pronouncing poppycock rather than a Reader evaluating the primary purposes of experimental novelists.


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