Daily Archives: May 15, 2009

Noted: Narrative without backstory

From Anthony Lane’s review of Star Trek in the May 18 New Yorker:

In all narratives, there is a beauty to the merely given, as the narrator does us the honor of trusting that we will take it for granted. Conversely, there is something offensive in the implication that we might resent that pact, and, like plaintive children, demand to have everything explained.

Shakespeare could have kicked off with a flashback in which the infant Hamlet is seen wailing with indecision as to which of Gertrude’s breasts he should latch onto, but would it really have helped us to grasp the dithering prince?

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Filed under craft, technique, Lane—Prince Anthony, narrative, NOTED