(Thanks to Steve who provided these and all the quotes posted today.)
At its best our age is an age of searchers and discoverers, and at its worst, an age that has domesticated despair and learned to live with it happily. The fiction which celebrates this last state will be the least likely to transcend its limitations, for when the religious need is banished successfully, it usually atrophies, even in the novelist. The sense of mystery vanishes. A kind of reverse evolution takes place, and the whole range of feeling is dulled.
From Mystery & Manners: ‘Novelist and Believer.’
We (Catholics) are beginning to realise that an impoverishment of the imagination means an impoverishment of the religious life as well...Good and evil appear to be joined in every culture at the spine, and as far as the creation of a body of fiction is concerned, the social is superior to the purely personal. Somewhere is better than anywhere. And traditional manners, however unbalanced are better than no manners at all.
From Mystery & Manners: ‘The Catholic Novelist in The Protestant South.’
I mortally and strongly defend the right of the artist to select a negative aspect of the world to portray and as the world gets more materialistic there will be more to select from. Of course you are only enabled to see what is black by having light to see it by……Furthermore the light you see by may be altogether outside of the work itself.
From Letter to Betty Hester. 8 September 1956
To know oneself is to know one’s region. It is also to know the world, and it is also, paradoxically, a form of exile from that world. The writer’s value is lost, both to himself and to his country, as soon as he ceases to see that country as a part of himself, and to know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth, and not the other way around. The first product of self-knowledge is humility, and this is not a virtue conspicuous in any national character.
From Mystery & Manners: ‘The Fiction Writer and His Country.’