The Loneliest Art

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Does screenwriting qualify as “real” writing? Over at the New Yorker, Richard Brody wonders what F. Scott Fitzgerald’s failed shot at Hollywood reveals about film as an industry and as an art:

Fitzgerald was undone by his screenwriting-is-writing mistake. It’s a notion that has its basis in artistic form. Look at Fitzgerald’s books: they are stylistically pellucid, following on the great realistic tradition…By contrast, William Faulkner, who went to Hollywood in the early nineteen-thirties, had no such illusions about screenwriting—in part because his sinuous and syntactically profuse writing bore so little relation to the lens-like transparency of a screenplay’s overt storytelling.

Cinephiles will doubtless take issue with any assertion that screenwriting is in some way “less than,” but the difference Brody emphasizes is one not of quality but of process: while film is an essentially collaborative art, literature is the product of solitude, a labor of the interior that at its core resists display.


Roxie Pell is a student at Wesleyan University, where she writes for Wesleying and The Argus and tweets hilarious nuggets of pure wisdom @jonathnfranzen. More from this author →