quotes, writing

Yes, he had to start his day.

He awoke punctually at oh-four-hundred hours, as he always did “in the field” (and that was what he called the maneuvers) His valet was already standing in the room. And the equerries, he knew, were already waiting outside the door. Yes, he had to start his day. He would have scarcely a moment to himself all day long. To make up for it, he had outwitted all of them that night by standing at the open window for a good quarter hour.

– from THE RADETSKY MARCH by Joseph Roth.

Kaiser Franz Joseph’s interior monologue. And Roth makes me see more clearly that the phrase “interior monologue” refers to the dramatic – to the monologue – and that when it is practiced well, as it is here, brilliantly, you can feel the point-of-view of the character as if it’s spoken.

The idea is taken from drama, of course. Or it takes from the same thing from which drama takes. From spoken language. Almost all Roth’s narration is one form of interior monologue or another. It’s like people are always speaking, even when silent. Saying things like “Yes, he had to start his day.” It’s the I-voice without the monotony and selfcenteredness of the I.

Maybe all the bad monologues I keep writing belong as fiction narration. Maybe this is how I get into fiction, by thinking of all narration as monologue. Because if I don’t know who’s speaking, I don’t know how to write. My short stories all turn into plays. That’s fine. Some day a play will turn into prose.

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