Good TV is a novel

>> Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GARY SHTEYNGART: How is literature supposed to survive when our brain has been pummeled with information, sliced and diced with it all day long at work, if we're white-collar workers? We go home. Are we really going to open up a thick text with 350 pages and try to waddle through it? Or are we just going to turn on "Mad Men"? Which is a wonderful show...

TERRY GROSS: It's a great show.

GARY SHTEYNGART: It's a great show, but see, what "Mad Men" does, which is so wonderful about it, is it takes a lot of the things that make novels great. It takes so much of that novelistic precision and also it takes time to explain its characters, to develop its characters and also to try to get into the minds of its characters, as far as film will allow.

So it satisfies all our narrative impulses. That's what we want. But we don't have to open a book to get it. We just watch it on the screen. "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Mad Men," all these shows very cleverly are indebted to novels, and all the creators of these shows frequently talk about how they're indebted to novels.
~Writer Gary Shteyngart, speaking with Terry Gross on Fresh Air, on May 13, 2011

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Hm, interesting...

The Quran tells many familiar biblical stories, featuring Abraham, Moses, and other key figures of the Old Testament, in addition to lengthy passages concerning Jesus and Mary, and of course the Quranic focus on the Last Judgment strongly recalls biblical texts. But generally, the most potent outside influences seem to have come from Eastern forms of Christianity. Most of the Quranic stories about Mary and Jesus find their parallels not in the canonical four Gospels but in apocryphal texts that circulated widely in the East, such as the Protevangelium of James and the Arabic Infancy Gospel. The Quran cites the miracle in which the infant Jesus shaped a bird out of clay and then breathed life into it, a tale also found in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. The Quran also presents the death of Jesus in exactly the language of those heretical Eastern Christians known as the Docetists, who saw the event as an illusion rather than a concrete reality: "They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them." One sura includes the common Christian legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, the saintly young men who escaped a persecution by sleeping many years in a cave.

So strong are these connections that over the past half century scholars have questioned whether the Quran could even have originated in Arabia, or whether it was collected or constructed somewhere else with a prominent Christian and Jewish population, perhaps in Syria or Mesopotamia.
~Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity, p. 186

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