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By Marianna Torgovnick

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It is facts that are absurd; nothing is more absurd than the very conception of a fact, an isolated datum of experience, something to find out, isolated from all the other things that there are to be found out; the twitch, under certain -24- conditions, of a dead frog's legs, or the presence, in an optimum Galvanic Battery, of thirty pieces of silver. Before encyclopaedias were invented, facts had to be invented, the very concept of a fact: fact as the atom of experience, for the encyclopaedist to set in its alphabetical place, in dramatic testimony to the realization that no one knows in what other place to set it, or under what circumstances it may be wanted again.

It was one ____________________ 2 See René Deschannes, Autour de Bouvard et Pécuchet, Paris, 1921. -19- of the tenets of the Enlightenment, that Art can be systematized, its long traditions having yielded a store of images and turns of phrase which we cannot do better than imitate. In the Spectator for May 28, 1711, there appeared an advertisement for a book of which three editions had sold out: "The Art of English Poetry, containing, I. Rules for making Verses. II. A Collection of the most natural, agreeable and sublime Thoughts, viz.

It is; and when we talk of a body of specifiable mass describing an elliptical path at one focus of which spins a globe of ionized atoms, that is an equally strange way to be talking of the earth on which we walk. -xv- That earth was invented in the seventeenth century, when so much else was invented. Invention moved on. ) so much unstillness. The same men who called all this bric-à-brac into existence also fussed with Universal Languages; these were an early project of the Royal Society, and for a time detained the great Newton.

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Closure in the Novel by Marianna Torgovnick


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