Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bellow on American writing

I've been writing about Scots poetry a lot recently, so here's a different thought. This is Saul Bellow on modern American writing:

We have developed in American fiction a strange combination of extreme naivete in the characters and of profundity implicit in the writing, in the techniques themselves and in the language, but the language of thought itself is banned, it is considered dangerous and destructive.

By way of evidence he cites Hemingway's "Old man and the sea" where the reader is offered:

a sort of Christian endurance... the attempt to represent ideas while sternly forbidding thought begins to look like a curious and highly sophisticated game. It shows a great skepticism of the strength of art.

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