• On Moral Fiction

  • By: John Gardner
  • Narrated by: Bob Souer
  • Length: 6 hrs and 17 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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On Moral Fiction  By  cover art

On Moral Fiction

By: John Gardner
Narrated by: Bob Souer
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Publisher's summary

"Fearless, illuminating" criticism from a New York Times bestselling author and legendary teacher, "proving... that true art is moral and not trivial" (Los Angeles Times).  

Novelist John Gardner's thesis in On Moral Fiction is simple: "True art is by its nature moral." It is also an audacious statement, as Gardner asserts an inherent value in life and in art. Since the book's first publication, the passion behind Gardner's assertion has both provoked and inspired fans. In examining the work of his peers, Gardner analyzes what has gone wrong, in his view, in modern art and literature, and how shortcomings in artistic criticism have contributed to the problem. He develops his argument by showing how artists and critics can reintroduce morality and substance to their work to improve society and cultivate our morality.   

On Moral Fiction is a must-listen book in which Gardner presents his thoughtfully developed criteria for the elements he believes are essential to art and its creation.

©1978 John C. Gardner (P)2019 Tantor

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Right in the Chops!

John Gardner does not mince words when he gives examples of bad writers, bad writing and bad critical reviews and critics. The audio book give a great 'in depth' analysis of Art, Beauty, Truth and Goodness. No wonder it caused such an uproar when it came out almost 40 years ago. You can call it smug, elite, snobbish - yet as far as I am concerned, it's honesty is refreshing.

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An Important Artistic Genius on a Fabulous Rant

I admit, I consider John Gardner probably the best fiction writer of the last century. And, in this book, he explains to me why I feel that way.
Gardner was a writer whose work was always affirming (even when bad things happened) and true, in a metaphysical sort of way. (It is also magnificent.) In this book, he explains his values--But he explains them in a sort of manic rant, in which he can display some of the best of his intellect, his remarkable talent with words, and his huge heart. It is somewhat like hearing six hours of Shakespeare's best soliloquies. (I can only return to Shakespeare after a binge with John Gardner.)
Also, here Gardner explains to me why I never enjoyed some of the extremely well-respected big name "serious" writers of the last century.
Thank you, Audible, for producing this book.

PS--This is one of the only times I have THOUGHT about running an audiobook on a slower speed. Keeping up with John Gardner's lightning fast and extremely erudite mind, plus his incredibly sensual images, is not always easy to do. However, my ipod is working well on the "regular" setting, and I don't want to rock the boat!

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Pompous and irritating, with a few insights

Not sure I can say it was worth it, mostly to say I have read was is often considered “essential” for those interested in writing or critiquing fiction, Okay, I made it to the end.

I wanted to like this book, because I agree with its general premise of the role literature plays in moral discourse. I guess I was expecting a more systematic treatise on the topic, given the title. Instead, it comes off as a series of reports on the authors favorite books that he considers to be doing moral work and those he doesn’t. Personally, discounting Vonnegut out of hand offends me, but ignoring what Vonneguts work does for 20th century literature (in giving voice to a sense of terse surreality to post-WW2 experience) is a big miss.

I wish someone would write an updated and more thorough take “On Moral Fiction”. It’s a pretty short book, performed fine, so see what you think. But be ready.

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Irritating and pretentious with a few good insights

Let me start by saying I really liked Gardners novel Grendel and part of my reaction against this book is that it totally lacks the humor and charm of that work. It is a litany of complaints against contemporary literature some of which might be justified but it’s tedious and the impression one gets is of Gardner implicitly carping that his own fiction was not adequately appreciated. The reading doesn’t help; it’s fine but pretty uptight-sounding. (But one might blame the text for inviting this.)

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Refuses to get to the point

I am very glad that this was free as it is certainly not worth paying for.

The book refuses to actually get to it's point and instead the author endlessly throw words and phrases at you that do nothing to make an argument or justify someone spending time on reading it.

The actual title should have been "Allow me to listen to myself talk and practice quipy sentences and complicated words."

This is nothing more than a ranting train of thought. There is no actual intent to convey something of substance to the reader.

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