Well, how can I put this? – one of the reasons people have lost faith in the novel is that they don’t believe it tells the truth anymore, which is another way of saying that they don’t believe in the convention of the novel. They pick up a novel and they know it’s make-believe. So who needs it – go listen to the television news, right? Or read a biography… Nobody is willing to suspend disbelief in that particular way anymore, including me.
I don’t think that people trust novels anymore. I don’t think that students go to novels now in the same way that they used to in the fifties – with the sense that they were going to learn something about their lives, the way that people used to read Hemingway, say. I think that in its realistic forms it’s just lost its credibility.
I don't know. Is that the case? There's a difference, surely, between the news and truth. The news is a subset of truth which is focused purely on the matter-of-fact events of the day. Truth is wider. Truth asks the questions. You don't get that from the news, or from television, I would suggest. There was an enormous amount of gloominess in the sixties and seventies about the state of the novel. Ironically, this was a time which was rich with memorable novelists. I don't think our current age is so rich in talent, and yet I still do not see any need to worry about the future of the novel, or of ideas, or of people using the former to help shape the latter.
Or am I being naive?