Compare and contrast:
V. S. Naipaul, from an interview with Rachel Donadio in last week’s New York Times Book Review (audio portion):
What I felt was that, if you spent your life just writing fiction, you were going to falsify your material … The novel, that business of making up narratives, making up stories, has done its work. It was very dominant in the 19th century in France and in England, and Russia, another important country, and then there was nothing more for the form to do. Forms have to change. In Shakespeare’s days people would be writing these plays in blank verse, and very soon after that they were writing plays in verse, and very soon after that they were writing plays in another way. Nothing stands still, everything has to move on. Every form which is living, has to move on, And to pretend you are going to be a writer in 2005 as though you were beginning in 1955 is utterly foolish. The world has changed. The forms have changed. There’s been a lot of work done.
B. S. Johnson, from the introduction to Aren’t You Rather Young to Be Writing Your Memoirs? (1973):
Life does not tell stories. Life is chaotic, fluid, random: it leaves myriads of ends untied, untidily. Writers can extract a story from life only by strict, close selection, and this must mean falsification. Telling stories really is telling lies. [...]
Literary forms do become exhausted, clapped out, as well. Look what had happened to five-act blank verse drama by the beginning of the nineteenth century. Keats, Shelley, Wordsworth and Tennyson all wrote blank-verse, quasi-Elizabethan plays; and all of them, without exception, are resounding failures. They are so not because the men who wrote them were inferior poets, but because the form was finished, worn out, exhausted, and everything that could be done with it had been done too many times already. That is what seems to have happened to the nineteenth century narrative novel, too, by the outbreak of the First World War. No matter how good the writers are who now attempt it, it cannot be made to work for our time, and the writing of it is anachronistic, invalid, irrelevant, and perverse.