Novels are Highly Private Documents
A novel can take you into the “inside” of a situation and show it to you as no other medium can, revealing as much of the underneath as is possible. In life we only half see and the other half we build up imaginatively. We generally have to be content with superficial viewings. The novelist has the power of taking you beyond the surface and helping you to see into the life of things. A novel is a ticket for peering into things public as well as private.
Why are novels valued in positive terms even though they seem to do this less than respectable job? They are loved because they offer to do something that is generally not permissible in society. They enter into private domains, and experience, with no hesitation, taking you where you can hardly reach on your own unless your own imagination matches the novelist’s.
Novels have some very noble and moral functions as well and it should not be believed that showing you the inside of things is the only function of a novel. But novels can show those moments in which people are absorbed with intimacy with the self or the other. They not only show you a beautiful pair of eyes; they take you up to the pair of eyes and help you to see the thought encaged in them.
People like going to beauty pageants, Miss Universe, and Miss World shows. Even when you see the beauties in front of your eyes, you rarely reach their minds or their inner-most feelings. In 1970, the Miss World contest in London was disrupted by women’s liberation protesters armed with flour bombs, stink bombs, and water pistols. This was a matter that journalists could report, but only a novelist could show from the inside. What kind of women were behind this and how did the beauties feel when the protests happened. The novelist can take you to the situation and inside it, as well as no one can.
The Tailor’s Needle is one such novel and Intriguing Women is such a collection of short stories.