Multiplicity

Calvino describes multiplicity as a quality of writing that seems to use infinite details and descriptions.  He compares the contemporary novel to an encyclopedia, so filled with facts it hardly resembles a work of prose.

“Whatever the starting point, the matter in hand spreads out and out, encompassing even vaster horizons, and if it were permitted to go on further and further in every direction, it would end up embracing the entire universe.” (Calvino 107).

He refers to Carlo Emilio Gadda as a writer who puts everything into his work causing him to lose sight of the purpose of the novel and replace it with an encyclopedia of his knowledge.

Thinking of multiplicity has brought a novel called Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of  Wonder (by Lawrence Weschler) to mind.  A wonder cabinet is a type of museum for fascinating and unlikely things, usually thought to be fiction or exaggerations.  This novel explains the findings in Mr. Wilson’s wonder cabinet and gives scientific analysis.  Half the time it was very much like an encyclopedia to me.  Even though overall it was a good book, it could really drag along.  We can lose the story in the mass of facts.

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