Enigmatism

I’ve just finished reading I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.  My favorite thing about this book is in its secondary storyline, the description of the book that the protagonist’s father is writing.  In a form deemed “Enigmatism”, he writes a book in several sections that consists of crossword puzzles, children’s games, and other seeming nonsense.  As Simon explains to Cassandra:

“I think your father believes that the interest so many people take in puzzles and problems– which often starts in earliest childhood– represents more than a mere desire for recreation; that it may even derive from man’s eternal curiosity about his origin.  Anyway, it makes use of certain faculties for progressive, cumulative search which no other mental exercise does.  Your father wants to communicate his ideas through those faculties.”

He told me to think of a crossword puzzle– of the hundreds of images that pass through the mind while solving one.  “In your father’s puzzles, the sum-total of the images adds up to the meaning he wants to convey.  And the sum-total of all the sections of his book, all the puzzles, problems, patterns, progressions– will add up to his philosophy of search-creation.”

Using the mental imagery created by words and puzzles to create the story in the reader’s mind instead of on the page– that is the most brilliant idea for a book I’ve ever heard.  I long to read this book.  I wish it actually existed.

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