"O'Brien takes what I call a fundamentalist approach to symbols. For him, the connection between the literal meaning and the figurative meaning of a symbol must be maintained. The image of a dragon, for example, must be used as an image of evil. No exceptions."Well put. I think that states rather succinctly what disturbs be about O'Brien as a critic. I subscribe to the school of thought that a symbol is an "inexhaustible well of meaning" (and now I can't remember who said that). Interesting that his fundamentalism doesn't hurt his art.
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