Saturday, January 9, 2010

Art = leaving out

Here's a writer's credo, first in the original German and then in English:

"Kunst ist Weglassen. Was der Leser zwischen den Zeilen lesen kann und
soll, brauche ich nicht zu schreiben. Den Prozess des Weglassens führe
ich konsequent durch. Es ist schwerer, einen Kurzroman zu schreiben,
als einen dreibändigen."
Leonhard Frank (1882-1961)

Loosely translated:

"Art is leaving out. What the reader can read between the lines I
don't need to write. I consistently implement the process of leaving
out. It is more difficult to write a short novel than one that runs to
three volumes."

Leonhard Frank worked for three months, every day and deep into the
night, on the first half page of his first novel, Die Räuberbande (The
Robbers), piling pebble upon pebble, and chiseling away. One morning
he was satisfied.

I've seen the statement that to create art is to leave out, or to
omit, attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894), to John
Ruskin (1819 – 1900), and to Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 – 1936),
all three of whom lived and wrote before Leonhard Frank.