|home -> The New Puritans|
Read the pledge and some of the stories here
Buy 'All Hail The New Puritans' at Amazon
The title originates from a song by The Fall, read the lyrics here
|The New Puritans Interview
'Let's do a Dogme of Literature'. A suggestion by Nicolas Blincoe that was reportedly the starting point for one of last year's most controversial publications, 'All Hail the New Puritans', both an anthology of young writing and a ten-point plan for the invigoration of British literature. Blincoe claims he was drawn to the idea as a chance to make an 'iconoclastic gesture, a manifesto in the tradition of the Dadaists' - he does little to dispel the obvious assumption that the project was primarily a bid for attention. This is a charge that fellow editor Matt Thorne vehemently denies. 'It was not a publicity stunt, we wanted to show the way forward for British fiction.'
Such indirectly voiced contradictions are typical of the conflict that lies beneath the unified principles of the Puritans. One gets the impression that while Blincoe approached the project with a degree of playfulness, Thorne was driven by a strong dislike of the current British literary establishment. 'Established writers are dormant, they are not doing their best work.' The feeling is mutual: Martin Amis remarked of the Puritans, 'There is no reading behind the writing.' Thorne laughs, 'Did he really say that? ... There is reading, just not the type of reading that you're supposed to do'. This downgrading of the traditional literary canon and an upgrading of current pop culture is at the heart of Thorne's view of the project. He even goes so far as to reject the need for any form of historical reference or back-story in literature, citing Big Brother as an example of effective drama that exists entirely in the moment.
A more measured approach was taken by Ben Richards, 'The Reluctant Puritan' according to Thorne. While admitting that there was an element of rebellion in their intentions ('The publishing world is stale, nepotistic and corrupt') he denies that the project was reactionary. 'I saw it as a chance to think about elements of writing. Why use lyricism? Why is lyricism so overvalued?' Even Thorne acknowledges that 'this was, in the end, a one-off experimental project, it made me think about storytelling.' He admits that the manifesto is only one way forward, and a way that is only really applicable to short stories.
So, in hindsight, were there any rules that they would like to have broken? Both Thorne and Blincoe name Rule No 5: 'We eschew ... flashbacks, dual temporal narratives and foreshadowing.' Thorne initially considered setting his story in a brothel but felt he was unlikely to succeed in producing anything other than straight pornography without resorting to temporal non-linearity. Although there are no official New Puritan projects planned, the writers continue to promote the cause around the world. Richards reports an enthusiastic reception in Croatia where authors are using the principles to create fiction that, by speaking clearly of the area's current situation, is playing a role in shaping the country's future.
Copyright © East of the Web and contributors 2002-2003. All rights reserved.