Every Sentence Has a Consequence

Everything we introduce into a novel becomes a sign: it is impossible to insert an element that does not change it to some degree, any more than you can insert a number, algebraic sign, or superfluous exponent into an equation. Sometimes-rarely, because one of the novelist’s cardinal virtues is a beautiful and intrepid unconscious-on a day or critical inclination, a sentence I have written will conjure up horrors before me, as Rimbaud wrote: as soon as it is integrated into the narrative, assimilated by it, caught irrevocably in a pitiless continuity, I sense the radical impossibility of discerning the ultimate effect of what I have shoved into a delicate, growing organism: food or poison?

– Julien Gracq, Reading Writing, on the novel:

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