Hybrid story-essay works?
October 16, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Kierkegaard's Either/Or, Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, Nathalie Sarraute's Tropisms, Roland Barthes' A Lover's Discourse - what other authors or works consist of this kind of smattering collection of short, plotless, hybrid essay-prose poems?
posted by shivohum to Writing & Language (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect a good example may be Plato's Republic.
posted by General Malaise at 11:56 AM on October 16, 2012

Emil Cioran is another good example of this style. Be warned: he resembles a somewhat less hopeful Nietzsche.
posted by gauche at 11:59 AM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pessoa, Always Astonished

Plato's Republic seems like more of an endless dialogue.
posted by goethean at 12:06 PM on October 16, 2012

Henri Lefevbre's Introduction to Modernity.
Walter Benjamin's writings, especially One Way Street.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations
Pascal, Pensees

In the latter case the "short, plotless, hybrid essay-prose poems" structure is accidental, as the book was assembled from notes Pascal had made for a book defending the Christian faith, but he died before he completed it.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:19 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

building on the Pensees theme, you might also like Kafka's notebooks or Camus'. Maybe Rilke's The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge?
posted by goethean at 12:28 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

A lot of early Romantic stuff is like this, especially by the contributors to Athenaeum; try Novalis and Friedrich Schlegel. A personal favorite of mine is Vasily Rozanov: Solitaria (1911) and Fallen Leaves (1913; 1915).
posted by languagehat at 12:30 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

R.D. Laing, Knots.
posted by holgate at 12:45 PM on October 16, 2012

Derrida's The Post Card.
Lots of Baudrillard, but especially the Cool Memories stuff and America.
Barthes by Barthes.
Heidegger's Sojourns travelogue.

Those all combine some sort of quasi-narrative or diary structure with fragmentary philosophical arguments.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 12:48 PM on October 16, 2012

Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia
posted by cgk at 12:55 PM on October 16, 2012

Rilke's Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge could work, though there's a little bit of plot as I recall.
For a slightly less purely philosophical read, maybe Maggie Nelson's Bluets.
posted by mlle valentine at 1:04 PM on October 16, 2012

W.G. Sebald might also be worth checking out. He also includes images within his writing.
posted by perhapses at 1:26 PM on October 16, 2012

Jan Zwicky - Wisdom & Metaphor might fit, with the twist that each brief prose-poem relates to an excerpt of someone else's work on the facing page. Fascinating book at any rate that excerpts many writers mentioned in this thread.
posted by Lorin at 1:38 PM on October 16, 2012

John Fowles; The Aristos.

Norman O. Brown: Love's Body.

Paul Goodman: Notes From A Useless Time.

Hugo Steinhaus
: Mathematical Snapshots, which ought to have been titled Mathematical Kaleidoscope after the Polish original.

Marvin Minsky: The Society of Mind.

Robert Graves: The Greek Myths.

David E. H. Jones: The Inventions of Daedalus.

Jearl Walker: The Flying Circus of Physics.

Aldo Leopold: A Sand County Almanac.

This is how I see Feynman's Lectures, too.
posted by jamjam at 2:30 PM on October 16, 2012

Philosophical Investigations
posted by goethean at 3:15 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eduardo Galleano! Genesis is a history of American and South American native peoples and the arrival of European colonists told in a series of short fables. While the book includes a bibliography of historical sources, the stories are often written in first person perspective and use the recorded history as a jumping off point.

All the other works of his that I've seen also take this form, but this one is, for me, the standout.
posted by clockwork at 3:32 PM on October 16, 2012

One woman so far. Can I recommend Chris Kraus?
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:23 PM on October 16, 2012

Response by poster: Excellent - thanks everyone.
posted by shivohum at 8:42 AM on October 28, 2012

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