Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: Julian Barnes

Failure . . .


First, be warned that I’m a true believer in the slipperiness of language use, for mere mortals…

Next, I want to look into what “Success” means.

I’ve delved into what it might mean in a number of contexts in the past…

Let’s look again.

Definition: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

Word history: “1530s, ‘result, outcome’, from Latin successus ‘an advance, a coming up; a good result, happy outcome’, [to] ‘come after’. Meaning ‘accomplishment of desired end’ (good success) first recorded 1580s.”

Now, Failure.

Definition: “A falling short or cessation.”

Word history: “1640s, failer, ‘a failing, deficiency’, also ‘act of failing’, from Anglo-French failer, Old French falir ‘be lacking; not succeed'”

I think I may have just proved that grabbing one definition of a word and glancing at its history of use doesn’t quite give us what we might need

Certainly, most folks have enough occurrences of both success and failure in their lives to define it for themselves

However, looking at a few accomplished writers’ explanations of “Failure” could throw much light on what “Success” could mean…

There’s an article in The Guardian called Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure.

I normally pull a few excerpts from articles to encourage you to read the whole thing; but, the end of this one had a link that led to an imposing form to fill out for “reuse” of the “content”…

There is such a thing as “fair use“; but… well… these days… and, I’m in the U.S. but the article is in an English publication… — So, I’ll give links to the writers involved (in case you need to evaluate your desire for their explanations of success and failure) and hope some of you take the link to the article in The Guardian

Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anne Enright, Howard Jacobson, Will Self, and Lionel Shriver.

If you do go to Falling Short: Seven Writers Reflect on Failure, I’d love it if you’d share in the Comments which author(s) drew you there…

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