Monday 2 July 2012

PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES: A Richard Godwin Exclusive

For July's guest post I hunted down Richard Godwin and and got him to discuss boundaries. Sit back, relax and prepare to be educated and entertained.
A boundary is, according to the OED:   
"That which serves to indicate the bounds or limits of anything whether material or immaterial: also the limit itself."
A boundary defines. Yet literature explores things that are often beyond definition, it thrives on ambiguity.
Transgression defines the limit.
William Blake said of Milton that:
"The reason Milton wrote in fetters when he wrote of Angels & God, and at liberty when of Devils & Hell, is because he was a true Poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it."
What he meant is that Milton was rebelling against the strictures that define.
The a priori is that boundaries are necessary. The a posteriori is that they limit Art.
To consider the proposition I would like to consider the concept.
Fences contain our English gardens. Englishmen like to be King of the castle. They need to own a slice of land and that is a particularly English malaise. It sets people at odds with one another. Fences cause arguments. Neighbours form disagreements based on the spatial configuration of their identities. The bit they never found.
Yet the illness spreads wider, it extends to the ownership of things that breathe. The need to set limits is not exclusive to England. It is a means of making profit for those arbiters of taste who control the industry surrounding literature.
FR Leavis was a tired and stale Oxford don who wrote a study of literature that attempted to pigeon hole writers who would have eaten him for breakfast if they could have got past his bones. He set a standard.

Setting the standard, a formula.
Publishers enjoy the sport of genre and pigeon holing.
And while there is pure Noir and pure horror there is also a wide range of novels that straddle the boundaries.
Look at Dostoyevksy. Look at Dickens. They both contain Noir, horror, the grotesque, bizarro, the surreal, and satire.
So what I believe is let’s call it fiction. Let’s call it literature.
There are certain themes I would not touch. It all depends how it is represented.
I have been accused of pushing the boundaries.
I am not conscious of doing so.
Were Samuel Beckett, Antonin Artaud, Jean Genet, Oscar Wilde, Gunter Grass, Ben Jonson,
trying to challenge definitions?
The latter may stand accused of amorality, because he does not offer tidy solutions to crimes.
There is no such thing as a moral story, as Wilde said.
Nietzsche wrote in Also Sprach Zarathustra:
“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit.”
Literature should be boundless.
It should explode myths.
The first cited reference to the word boundary in English is found in Bacon:
"Corruption is a Reciprocall to Generation: And they Two, are as Natures Two Termes or Bundaries" Sylvia (sic)
328, 1626.
The critics may have penned themselves in. I hope writers do not do so.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr.Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012. It is availableonline at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews. Apostle Rising, in which a serial killer crucifies politicians, is available here You can find out more about him

Check out my review of the excellent Mr Glamour at


  1. Wise words from a wise man.

  2. It's a hard thing to not hold to the imaginary fence lines that those "in the know" create for us. The only writers I know who are worth reading are those whose favorite hobby is taking a chainsaw to those walls of ignorant eliteism. It also helps if an author can use savage laughter to help being them down. It's an even bigger help when the self-same writer kicks a two-by-four up their collective asses while he's bringing it all down around their ears. Richard Godwin is in the habit of doing all of that and much more.Great interview, Graham. Great answers Richard. Thanks.

  3. As an inveterate boundary-scoffer, I applaud all Ruchard says here and cheer him onward.

  4. What a rousing exposition! It hits the button that makes a person spring from their seat and yell ‘Bravo!’ I’m not so bold, but I recognize truth and beauty when they’re before me like this : )

  5. Thanks everybody. Thanks Graham.