“A novel is a mirror walking along a
main road.” –
Marie-Henri Beyle, who used the pseudonym Stendhal, is one of the most original and complex French writers of the first half of the 19th century, chiefly known for his works of fiction. Perhaps his finest novel is the 1830 work The Red and the Black from which the above quote comes.
A century and a half later, Tim O’Brien said that he thought about writers like Stendhal who had proceeded him, and what they said about creating good fiction led him to create acclaimed works like Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried.
Reflecting on his writing, he noted:
“A good piece of fiction, in my view, does not offer solutions. Good stories deal with our moral struggles, our uncertainties, our dreams, our blunders, our contradictions, our endless quest for understanding. Good stories do not resolve the mysteries of the human spirit but rather describe and expand up on those mysteries.”
Tim O’Brien Stendhal