Friday, September 19, 2008

Writing, an essay by W. H. Auden in Narrative Magazine

It is the author’s aim to say once and emphatically, “He said.”

H. D. THOREAU

The art of literature, vocal or written, is to adjust the language so that it embodies what it indicates.

A. N. WHITEHEAD

All those whose success in life depends neither upon a job which satisfies some specific and unchanging social need, like a farmer’s, nor, like a surgeon’s, upon some craft which he can be taught by others and improve by practice, but upon “inspiration,” the lucky hazard of ideas, live by their wits, a phrase which carries a slightly pejorative meaning. Every “original” genius, be he an artist or a scientist, has something a bit shady about him, like a gambler or a medium.

Literary gatherings, cocktail parties and the like, are a social nightmare because writers have no “shop” to talk. Lawyers and doctors can entertain each other with stories about interesting cases, about experiences, that is to say, related to their professional interests but yet impersonal and outside themselves. Writers have no impersonal professional interests. The literary equivalent of talking shop would be writers reciting their own work at each other, an unpopular procedure for which only very young writers have the nerve.

2 comments:

JD Roland (poet rebellious)™ said...

Because most writers are introverted. At least I think most are. With me,it's
I could listen to a good narrative all night...and a bad one 2 minutes. But, I can read and write without prejudice. :)

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