Why Do I Write? An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett

Why Do I Write? An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett

Why Do I Write? An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett

Why Do I Write? An Exchange of Views between Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene & V. S. Pritchett

Excerpt

If we are asked what, from the social point of view, writers are for, one answer seems to be that they exist to show the inconvenience of human nature; just as from the private point of view, they enlarge human nature's knowledge of itself. But do we ask more of writers in a time like the present? Ought they not, perhaps, be putting their shoulders to some wheel or other? And which one? After all (the cliché runs) 'this is a time of crisis, this is an age of revolution, transition, despair.'. . . The cliché is not necessarily untrue because it is conventional; it is simply not helpful. It assumes in advance a positive social reaction of a definite kind in the writer: that he will support this or that, oppose that or the other. If we really want to know what the writer is to do we may learn more if we turn away from the social situation with its pre-fabricated demands, to the writer himself. This, I think, in very general terms, is a view shared by the three contributors to the present symposium. We have to discover how the writer lives now, how he is affected by the changes of our time and (just as important) how he is not affected. If society is reformed in this way or that, ought he to be reformed with it? Is it possible to 'do' anything with the writer as you do it with . . .

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