When You Say Simple, You Probably Mean Plain

Allegorical tales that involve animal characters have notable appeal for adults as well. Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” for example, is a masterpiece of political commentary that is arresting in its simplicity.

From the comments section of A Child’s Wild Kingdom. As soon as I read it I thought—simple? Orwell is simple? I don’t know, doesn’t Orwell seem, actually, to be kind of brilliantly complex? And doesn’t he just mask that complexicity in an attractively plain style?

And then from the chorus of dead people I’ve tucked into my brain, Nabokov—the master of concealing difficult and complex thoughts within a difficult and complex style—lashed out from his excellent Lectures on Russian Literature:

…But remember that ‘simplicity’ is buncombe. No major writer is simple. The Saturday Evening Post is simple. Journalese is simple. Upton Lewis is simple. Mom is simple. Digests are simple. Damnation is simple. But Tolstoys and Melvilles are not simple.”

Nor, indeed!, is any artist worth experiencing.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: