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Category: Writers on Writers

Writers On Writers

Agatha Christie_Vladimir Nabokov_ Edna St. Vincent Millay_ Fyodor Dostoevsky_Mary McCarthy_ Edgar Allan Poe_ Eudora Welty_ E. M. Forster_ F. Scott Fitzgerald_ V. S. Naipaul

“I really like Agatha Christie. She obeys the rules of the genre at first, but then occasionally she manages to do very personal things.”
Michel Houellebecq

“There’s no music in Nabokov, it’s all pictorial, it’s all image-based.”
John Banville

“It’s so much better, you see, for me, when a writer like Edna St. Vincent Millay speaks so deeply about her concern for herself and does not offer us any altruisms.”
Maya Angelou

“Dostoyevsky was one of the first writers…to identify a crisis of modern civilization: that every one of us is visited by contradictory voices, contradictory physical urges.”
Czeslaw Milosz

“I think Miss [Mary] McCarthy is often brilliant and sometimes even sound. But, in fiction, she is a lady writer, a lady magazine writer.”
Lillian Hellman

“Poe’s stories still inhabit my head.”
Susan Sontag

“Eudora Welty has tremendous class, not just in her work, but in the way she walks, the look in her eyes, the way she has conducted her life.”
Ken Kesey

“I suppose E. M. Forster is the best.”
Dorothy Parker

“I often feel about Fitzgerald that he couldn’t distinguish between innocence and social climbing.”
Saul Bellow

“Naipaul is a great person to read before you have to do a piece.”
Joan Didion

Source: The Paris Review 

Writers On Writers

Arthur Conan Doyle_ Homer_ D. H Lawrence_ Angela Carter_ John Cowper Powys_Jane Austen_Ezra Pound_ Graham Greene_ Charles Dickens_ Mark Twain

“Every crime writer has been influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, even if only subconsciously.”
P. D James

“The author of the Iliad is either Homer or, if not Homer, somebody else of the same name.”
Aldous Huxley

“I was terribly disturbed when I first read D. H Lawrence.”
Alice Munro

“After Malcolm Bradbury, my other important mentor was Angela Carter, who taught me a lot about the business of writing.”
Kazuo Ishiguro

“John Cowper Powys is really interested in sex, just as keen on it as Lawrence, but he understands and portrays it far better.”
Irish Murdoch

“Austen has always been a bit hit-or-miss with me, I must say.”
Julian Barnes

“I must fight a suspicion of conspiracy against my brain when I see blandly accepted…the pretentious nonsense of Mr Pound, that total fake.”
Vladimir Nabokov

“The Quiet American by Graham Greene…is a terrific, terrific book.”
Stephen King

“Charles Dickens wrote about Bill Sikes bludgeoning Nancy to death, getting blood all over everything, but if a woman had written that, nobody would have published it.”
Margaret Atwood

“Mark Twain talked about racial ideology in the most powerful, eloquent, and instructive way I have ever read.”
Toni Morrison

Sources: Google Books, The Paris Review, Brainy Quote

Writers On Writers

Anthony Powell_Beryl Bainbridge_Jack Kerouac_Virginia Woolf_William Blake_Ernest Hemingway_William Faulkner_ Rebecca West_William Shakespeare_John Updike

“Important novelists often say that writing a novel is hard. I think Anthony Powell said it was like conducting foreign policy—that you have to be prepared to go and do it every day no matter how you feel.”
James Salter

“Beryl Bainbridge understood the absurdity of life and how humour lurks in even the most tragic situation.”
Deborah Moggach

“Jack Kerouac influenced me quite a bit as a writer . . . in the Arab sense that the enemy of my enemy was my friend.”
Hunter S. Thompson

“There was a period in my early career that was determined by the images of women writers I was exposed to—women writers as genius suicides like Virginia Woolf.”
Margaret Atwood

“Blake’s poetry has the unpleasantness of great poetry.”
T. S Eliot

“In writing She Came to Stay, I was certainly influenced by Hemingway insofar as it was he who taught us a certain simplicity of dialogue and the importance of the little things in life.”
Simone de Beauvoir

“I find Faulkner intolerably bad.”
Evelyn Waugh

“Rebecca West’s novel The Fountain Overflows taught me a lot.”
Andrea Barrett

“Every year or so I read Shakespeare straight through.”
P.G. Wodehouse

“Updike is a master of effortless motion — between third and first person, from the metaphorical density of literary prose to the demotic, from specific detail to wide generalisation, from the actual to the numinous, from the scary to the comic.”
Ian McEwan

Sources: Bartleby, The Independent, The Paris Review, Wikiquote

Writers On Writers

Colette_Don DeLillo_John Milton_ Angela Carter_ Percy Shelley_ A. L Barker_ Henry Green_John Keats_ Saki_ William James

“Colette is a writer one should know something about.”
James Salter

“I started reading DeLillo pretty much when he started publishing. He was, and is, one of my heroes.”
Ann Beattie

“Milton…was a true poet and of the Devil’s party without knowing it.”
William Blake

“Angela Carter has remarkable descriptive gifts, a powerful imagination, and… a capacity for looking at the mess of contemporary life without flinching.”
Anthony Burgess

“I still think Shelley is an underestimated poet.”
Michael Frayn

“I am a fanatical admirer of A. L Barker. If you cannot read her it is your fault.”
Rebecca West

“I do like to write dialogue, intense forms of which I admire in Henry Green’s novels.”
Shirley Hazzard

“Being in a garret doesn’t do you any good unless you’re some sort of a Keats.”
Dorothy Parker

“Saki says that youth is like hors d’oeuvres: you are so busy thinking of the next courses you don’t notice it. When you’ve had them, you wish you’d had more hors d’oeuvres.”
Philip Larkin

“William James says that in times of trauma and crisis a door is opened to a place where facts and apparitions mix.”
Susan Howe

Sources: The Paris Review, Wikipedia, GoodReads

Writers On Writers

Rebecca West_ Fyodor Dostoevsky_ Willa Cather_ Walt Whitman_ Margaret Drabble_Raymond Chandler_ Katherine Anne Porter_ Blaise Pascal_ Eugene O’Neill_ Émile Zola

“Rebecca West was one of the giants and will have a lasting place in English literature.”
William Shawn

“I don’t like Dostoevsky. He is like the rat, slithering along in hate, in the shadows, and in order to belong to the light professing love, all love.”
D.H. Lawrence

“Willa Cather. I loved Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock—really all of her work.”
Paula Fox

“Hey—Walt Whitman, isn’t he magnificent?”
Jim Crace

“Well, now I’m over sixty I can simply say this: the reception of my early books was completely meshed up with the fact that my sister Margaret Drabble was a writer.”
A. S. Byatt

“Chandler is all about the wisecracks, the similes, the constant satire, the construction of the knight.”
James Ellroy

“Katherine Anne Porter was an influence on me.”
Nadine Gordimer

“Pascal was the shock of my life. I was fifteen. I was on a class trip to Germany, my first trip abroad, and strangely I had brought the Pensées of Pascal.”
Michel Houellebecq

“I remember at one point going through everything of Eugene O’Neill’s. I was struck by the sheer theatricality of his plays.”
Joan Didion

“When I said that Zola was my favourite writer, I meant that I loved his courage, his indignation.”
Anita Brookner

Sources: The Paris Review, GoodReads 

Writers On Writers

Hart Crane_Jonathan Meades_ Chico Buarque_ Aldous Huxley_W.H Auden_Philip Roth_Martin Amis_ F.R. Leavis_ Eugène Ionesco_ John Stuart Mill

”Hart Crane’s poems are profound and deep-seeking.”
Eugene O’Neill

“Meades is a national treasure – original, quirky, fearless and often quite right.”
Nigel Jones

“Buarque’s the real deal, hilarious and innovative and deftly profound.”
Jonathan Franzen

“Aldous Huxley was uncannily prophetic, a more astute guide to the future than any other 20th- century novelist.”
J.G Ballard

“Auden’s range was astonishing.”
John Fuller

“Roth had reached a kind of terminus  – the end of the beginning, as it were.”
Jason Cowley

“Amis does the reader a brilliant, generous (and cathartic) favour.”
Richard Ford

“F.R. Leavis’ ‘eat up your broccoli’ approach to fiction emphasises this junkfood/wholefood dichotomy.”
Angela Carter

“I’d never heard of Ionesco until after I’d written the first few plays.”
Harold Pinter

“John Stuart Mill thought that lyric poetry is not heard, but overheard.”
James Fenton

Sources: The Daily Telegraph, Guardian, The Atlantic, Wikiquote, Dictionary, The Paris Review

Writers On Writers

“If I were to read, cold, something by Anaïs Nin, I would probably say that it was written by a man trying to write as a woman.”
Joan Didion

“Spinoza’s ‘human bondage’ is the condition of one who identifies himself with his own desires, emotions and thought processes.”
Patrick White

“I admire Salman for his work and his courage, and I respect his stand.”
John le Carré

“I was being forced to read Henry James at school. I hated it. With the result that James became one of my favourite writers.”
Jeffrey Eugenides

“One Whitman is miracle enough, and when he comes again it will be the end of the world.”
Randall Jarrell

“This general inspissation of the Sacks worldview can seem both stimulating and disturbing.”
Will Self

“I have often thought Ian McEwan a writer as unlike me as it is possible to be.”
Zadie Smith

“If you’re trying to finish a book, steer clear of Nabokov—he’ll make you feel like a clodhopper.”
David Mitchell

“Of all novelists in any country, Trollope best understands the role of money.”
W.H Auden

“Larkin was a person who had profound and unforgettable things to say about common experience.”
Andrew Motion

Sources: Guardian, Wikiquote, The Believer, The Paris Review

Writers On Writers

“To read Patrick White is to discover an extra taste bud.”
Nicholas Shakespeare

“The whole of English Lit at the moment is being written by Anthony Burgess. He reviews all new books except those by himself, and these latter include such jeux d’esprit as A Shorter Finnegan’s Wake and so on….He must be a kind of Batman of contemporary letters. I hope he doesn’t take to poetry.”
Philip Larkin

“James’ repressions and evasions are many, varied and exhausting.”
Camille Paglia

“By saying Simone Weil’s life was both comic and terrible I am not trying to reduce it, but mean to be paying her the highest tribute I can, short of calling her a saint, which I don’t believe she was.”
Flannery O’Connor

“I had always had grave doubts about Eliot’s taste and, indeed, intelligence.”
Anthony Burgess

“Céline’s personal and artistic honesty are of a piece. If he made mistakes, grievous mistakes, in his life, as a novelist he remained true to himself and to his art.”
John Banville

“Behind every Chesterton sentence there was someone painting with words, and it seemed to me that at the end of any particularly good sentence or any perfectly-put paradox, you could hear the author, somewhere behind the scenes, giggling with delight.”
Neil Gaiman

“No one, it seems to me, can hope to equal Augustine. Who, nowadays, could hope to equal one who, in my judgment, was the greatest in an age fertile in great minds.”
Petrarch

“In regard to absurdism, Samuel Beckett is sometimes considered to be the epitome of the postmodern artist … In fact, he is the aesthetic reductio ad absurdum of absurdism: no longer whistling in the dark, after waiting for Godot, he is trying to be radically silent, wordless in the dark.”
William Desmond

“If the English hoard words like misers, the Irish spend them like sailors; and Brendan Behan … sends language out on a swaggering spree, ribald, flushed and spoiling for a fight.”
Kenneth Tynan

Sources: The Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, Wikiquote

Writers On Writers

“The only one capable of inventing heroes was Bernard Shaw.”
Jorge Luis Borges

“Keynes’s intellect was the sharpest and clearest that I have ever known. When I argued with him, I felt that I took my life in my hands, and I seldom emerged without feeling something of a fool.”
Bertrand Russell

“Fitzgerald was a better just-plain writer than all of us put together.”
John O’Hara

“Schopenhauer’s saying, that ‘a man can do as he will, but not will as he will,’ has been an inspiration to me since my youth up, and a continual consolation and unfailing well-spring of patience in the face of the hardships of life, my own and others’.”
Albert Einstein

“Gertrude Stein, all courage and will, is a soldier of minimalism.”
Elizabeth Hardwick

“Lord Byron makes man after his own image, woman after his own heart; the one is a capricious tyrant, the other a yielding slave.”
William Hazlitt

“George Orwell was the wintry conscience of a generation which in the thirties had heard the call of the rasher assumptions of political faith. He was a kind of saint and, in that character, more likely in politics to chastise his own side than the enemy.”
V. S. Pritchett

“We will never be finished with the reading or rereading of Hegel.”
Jacques Derrida

“I wonder now what Ernest Hemingway’s dictionary looked like, since he got along so well with dinky words that everybody can spell and truly understand.”
Kurt Vonnegut

“The genius of Coleridge is like a sunken treasure ship, and Coleridge a diver too timid and lazy to bring its riches to the surface.”
Hugh Kingsmill

Source: Wikipedia

Writers On Writers

“We cannot help but see Socrates as the turning-point, the vortex of world history.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“Mayakovsky impregnated poetry in such a way that almost all the poetry has continued being Mayakovskian.”
Pablo Neruda

“I wouldn’t like to do what Elizabeth Bowen once told me she did—write something every day, whether I was working on a book or not.”
Angus Wilson

“Vladimir Nabokov, and I languidly English the name, takes up a good five feet of my library. “
Martin Amis

“Flann O’Brien is unquestionably a major author.”
Anthony Burgess

“Between thirteen and sixteen are the ideal if not the only ages for succumbing to Thomas Wolfe—he seemed to me a great genius then, and still does, though I can’t read a line of it now.”
Truman Capote

“As far as I’m consciously aware, I forget everything I read at once, including my own stuff. But I have a tremendous admiration for Céline.”
Henry Green

“It may really be said: You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

“Kingsley Amis and I used to exchange unpublished poems, largely because we never thought they could be published, I suppose.”
Philip Larkin

“Tolstoy is the greatest Russian writer of prose fiction.”
Vladimir Nabokov

Sources: Wikipedia, Brainy Quote, The Paris Review  

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