Filosofía de la composición

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Método de composición * Edgar Allan Poe

THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMPOSITION * BY EDGAR A. POE.
CHARLES DICKENS, in a note now lying before me, alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of "Barnaby Rudge," says — "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for thefirst, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done." I cannot think this the precise mode of procedure on the part of Godwin — and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens' idea — but the author of "Caleb Williams" was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivable from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing ismore clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its dénouement before any thing be attempted with the pen. It is only with the dénouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention. There is a radical error, I think, inthe usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis — or one is suggested by an incident of the day — or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative — designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, renderthemselves apparent. I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in view — for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attainable a source of interest — I say to myself, in the first place, "Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what oneshall I, on the present occasion, select?" Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can best be wrought by incident or tone — whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone — afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in theconstruction of the effect. I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would — that is to say, who could — detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say — but,

En una nota que en estos momentos tengo a lavista, Charles Dickens dice lo siguiente, refiriéndose a un análisis que efectué del mecanismo de Barnaby Rudge: "¿Saben, dicho sea de paso, que Godwin escribió su Caleb Williams al revés? Comenzó enmarañando la materia del segundo libro y luego, para componer el primero, pensó en los medios de justificar todo lo que había hecho". Se me hace difícil creer que fuera ése precisamente el modo decomposición de Godwin; por otra parte, lo que él mismo confiesa no está de acuerdo en manera alguna con la idea de Dickens. Pero el autor de Caleb Williams era un autor demasiado entendido para no percatarse de las ventajas que se pueden lograr con algún proce-dimiento semejante. Si algo hay evidente es que un plan cualquiera que sea digno de este nombre ha de haber sido trazado con vistas al desenlaceantes que la pluma ataque el papel. Sólo si se tiene continuamente presente la idea del desenlace podemos conferir a un plan su indispensable apariencia de lógica y de causalidad, procurando que todas las incidencias y en especial el tono general tienda a desarrollar la intención establecida. Creo que existe un radical error en el método que se emplea por lo general para construir un cuento....
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