nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

Fiction of Manners

I hate fiction of manners, but that's not going to stop me from writing about it in some effort to see if I can figure out why. I hope that people who like fiction of manners will tell me whether I've got an accurate impression of the genre. (I admit that I might be as wrong as someone who hates sf trying to talk about sf, but I also feel it's occasionally necessary to look like a fool in public in order to learn things.)

Imho, fiction of manners is almost entirely about emotion and status, and a lot of my problem with it (aside from a probably neurotic aversion to paying attention to status maneuverings) is that I'm left feeling very claustrophobic when I read it. People don't seem to notice any material object except for its status possibilities. They don't talk about ideas. They don't make things. They hardly get out of doors.

Their status maneuverings are for very high stakes in terms of their personal happiness (frex, in a classic CoM, the cost of a bad marriage might be serious poverty), but the physical cost of losing is kept off-stage. (The emotional cost, say being the poor relative-companion of someone obnoxious, may well be on-stage.)

In a discussion I can't find easily papersky said that _Tooth and Claw_ was too savage to be fantasy of manners. I think it's not just savagery--people in fiction of manners aren't very embodied, whether for pleasure or pain.
Tags: book recommendations, fiction, good comments

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