E. L. Doctorow on Clear vs Opaque Writers

Certainly Moby Dick is a very written book. I’ll make a crude distinction here between those writers who make their language visible, who draw attention to it in the act of writing and don’t let us forget it - Melville, Joyce, Nabokov in our own time, the song-and-dance men, the strutting dandies of literature - from those magicians of the real who write to make their language invisible like lit stage scrims that pass us through to the scene behind, so that we see the life they are rendering as if no language produced it. Tolstoy and Chekov are in this class, so clearly one nor the other method can clearly be said to be the way. But the one is definitely more reader-friendly than the other. And Melville, in his journey from Typee to Moby Dick, abandons the clear, transparent pools of the one, for the opaque linguistic seas of the other … the real Moby Dick is the voracious maw of the book swelling the English language … Ernest Hemingway was wrong when he said that modern American literature begins with Huckleberry Finn. It begins with Moby Dick, the book that swallows European civilization whole, and we only are escaped alone on our own shore to tell our tales.

- E. L. Doctorow, Composing Moby Dick in Creationists