When we go to a baseball stadium and cheer a person like Babe Ruth for hitting the ball harder, higher, further and more often than the other players, we are cheering him as our representative. We cheer people of exceptional accomplishment whose achievements are so highly visible and so obviously measurable because we, too, are faced with the complexity of the lives that we live and are challenged to perform feats of heroic proportions just to be able to say that we have lived our lives well when we come to the end. In the novel, Babe Ruth says, “There ain’t nothin’ like a game of baseball. There ain’t nothin’ like a beautiful summer day, with the clouds light and fluffy and the sun on the back of your shoulders and a nice liftin’ breeze comin’ down onto the field from out of the stands.” The man who feels this way about the game he loves is a man who faces enormous challenges, digs deep down inside himself and finds whatever is needed in order to triumph in the game of life. This makes him a fitting representative for us all; we all hit spectacular home runs in out own quiet ways.
Raskolnikov: Murder with an Axe – a novel This novel is an imaginative re-creation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. After killing the old pawnbroker, Ilyona Ivanovna, and her sister, Lizabeta, the young student, Raskolnikov, is haunted by the savagery of the double-murder. As he tosses and turns in his misery – reviewing his situation, his motives and his view of himself as an "Extraordinary Man" – Raskolnikov’s preconscious mind forms the image-patterns by which he seeks to understand what he has done. The Making of Murder with an Axe – a reflective journal This journal records my reflections on the process of the crafting of the novel as it evolved through the stages of planning, writing, editing and polishing. It constitutes an effort to be as conscious as possible of the process whereby the single idea that suggested the topic of the novel was expanded into a complex work of art. Topics range from the nuts and bolts of novel-building to the nature of the novel as an art-form. Planning Murder with an Axe – a planning notebook During the writing of the novel, I kept a hand-written notebook which records the day-by-day development of the novel as it found its shape and style. The notebook – now in print form – reveals how a vast cluster of thoughts was sifted, selected, structured and polished into novel-form. The Project Together, this novel, journal and notebook comprise the tenth installment in an on-going novel-writing project in which I am exploring the concept of form and meaning in the novel, and of the novel as a form of expression in the 21st Century. All of the published journals and notebooks are available for free download at www.johnpassfield.ca.
Water Lane, the last stop on Medieval pilgrimages to Canterbury, is located in the ancestral village that John Passfield shares with the, Elizabethan playwright, Christopher Marlowe. In this novel, the water in the lane becomes a central image in an imaginary pilgrimage that the dying artist recalls as he lies bleeding from a stab wound on the floor of Eleanor Bull’s house in Deptford, in May of 1593. Amid the footsteps and murmurs of his murderers, as they rehearse their version of the scuffle, Marlowe’s preconscious mind attempts a final structuring of the images of his life. The overt mystery -- who has arranged the death of Christopher Marlowe? --frames the covert mystery: what are the influences that shape, an artist’s work?
On March 19, 1937, world-renowned Soviet film-maker, Sergei Eisenstein, appears before the All-Union Creative Conference of Workers in Soviet Cinematography, accused of having failed to create films which reflect the social and political orthodoxy of the Stalinist regime. Reeling from an unrelenting barrage of questions, accusations and threats, the film-maker struggles to respond to the dilemma which is faced by all artists in totalitarian states: how to reconcile one’s freedom of imagination and creativity with the conformity to the artistically-stifling orthodoxy which is demanded by the rulers of society? His response is an example of the ingenuity which is often displayed by artists in repressive societies.