Sunday, November 28, 2004

From "The Habit of Being", pg. 530...

[Now Bless Thyself, by Elizabeth Sewell] is a poet's book sure enough. I very much like the notion she gets across that the poet deals exactly with the things that don't work out, that he's sort of a shock absorber, that he takes the first blows and mutes them through the imagination and makes things bearable.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Unpublished letter...

A fellow Flannery fan sent along this unpublished letter:
1 March ‘60

Dear Caroline,

Your letter meant a lot to me and I am terribly grateful to you for writing it. I think of people, strangers, all over the country with this evil image of the book—an unhealthy book from an unhealthy source. They must have gone and looked the disease up because I didn’t tell them it was a tuberculous disease of the skin and mucous membranes. Imagine that in a book review! I don’t know how low taste can get, but not much lower than that I should think.

The book seems to be a trip in a glass-bottomed boat to most of the reviewers. Anyway I can be thankful for Granville Hicks.

When you get through with yours in April, why don’t you come down and spend the weekend with us and take yourself a rest? I am not trying to steal Rosa Lee’s company but we have a lot of room out here. We have just put on the extra rooms and a bath—stuck on the side. Think about this. We are going to be here all during May except May 1 & 2. I have to talk in Savannah on May 1. After that I ain’t opening my mouth in public again, but am going back to my dabbling in the variants of sin and salvation. Good ol sin and salvation.


Monday, November 15, 2004

On Misinterpretations

The meaning of a story should go on expanding for the reader the more he thinks about it, but meaning cannot be captured in an interpretation. If teachers are in the habit of approaching a story as if it were a research problem for which any answer is believable so long as it is not obvious, then I think students will never learn to enjoy fiction.Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.

On Proust's Novel

Jan 15, 1961:
Somebody gave me the complete Remembrance of Things Past for Christmas and I am eating my way through it like a mole. I think it would make good Iceland reading...

Jan 21, 1961:
I am on page 513 in [the Proust novel]. I cain't get over it.