Authors at Work

Authors at Work

Authors at Work

Authors at Work

Excerpt

The working of man's mind is little known in one of its noblest moments -- the act of artistic creation. How the inspiration is unconsciously prepared; what happens at its first impact; and even the steps in the evolution of a completed work are all phenomena that resist and largely escape analysis.

In such arts as acting, music, painting, the materials for any recapture and examination of the creative moment are sadly scanty. In writing, the earliest steps are equally evanescent; that they are immediate, intense, and even painful we know from testimony like that of Housman:

I can no longer expect to be revisited by the continuous excitement under which I wrote the greater part of my other book, nor indeed could I well sustain it if it came . . .

But very soon after inspiration first flashes into conscious view, the writer resorts to paper, sometimes the first scrap that comes to hand. Paper, happily, is relatively durable, even in our own chemical age, and a remarkable amount of it bearing the first or early thoughts of writers has survived.

It was the aim of this exhibition to move backward by this means as near as possible to the creative moment and to follow the subsequent evolution of writers' work.

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