Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme () is a collection of essays and interviews with Donald Barthelme. What other items do customers buy after viewing this item? Not-Knowing: The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme Paperback. Donald Barthelme. When Donald Barthelme died at the age of 54, he was perhaps the most imitated (if not emulated) practitioner of American literature. Caustic, slyly observant.

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A unique process begins when the writer lowers the pen to put words on paper—or taps out letters onto the page with typewriter keys. Certainly writers think about and plan stories beforehand; and certainly, after writing a few stories, you may plan them or barthelem about them in a more complex way.

Not-Knowing:: The Essays and Interviews

The fact is, almost everyone thinks about stories. Many even get to the point of planning them.


What makes this process unique has to do directly with doubting. And he might be right. While one can imagine the lyric impulse of the poem or the meandering logic of the essay easily fits with the notions of doubt and not-knowing, the question lingers: Should writers of fiction come to a story or narrative with a conceit or concern already crafted, or does writing through, around, and among the consciousnesses, characters, and languages of fiction reveal to these writers their ultimate uptake?

The process may not involve ideas in the sense of intelligible thoughts; it may well not even involve words.

It may be a matter of mood, resonances, mental glimpses, voices, emotions, visions, dreams, anything. Without the scanning processes engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.

Not-Knowing Quotes by Donald Barthelme

For I am here to tell you, dear writers of fiction! We are very much cloaked in doubt and not-knowing; this is the womb in which good fiction incubates.


Without this moment, this series of moments, of doubts about language shattered by language, the text is only a document of time passed with some paper, of time spent pondering a passage through a dream. Or, to put it in fewer terms but, arguably, less clearly—Karl Kraus: Your barthdlme address will not be published.

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Notify me of new posts by email. On Doubt and Not-Knowing in Fiction.

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