WRITERS AT WORK by Van Wyck-Intro Brooks


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In its second series of Paris Review interviews, Writers at Work, continues to be one of the liveliest guide-lines to contemporary literature going. For one thing, the roster's dazzling: in addition to novelists Ellison, Hemingway, Jones, Green, Durrell, Huxley, Pasternak McCarthy, Miller and Porter there are, for the first time, poets too, Eliot, Pound, Frost, Robert Lowell and Marianne Moore. For another, not only do we get gay, insights into the personality and technical practices of these greats, but the snap, crackle and pop of an intellectual question and answer game is almost always sustained, and generally is of immediate importance, as for instance with Eliot and Hemingway, many of whose remarks made here have already passed into scholarly exegesis. However, for us the following seem the most memorable: Lowell's engaging earnestness, the late Pasternak's moving evocations of his and Russia's past, Durrell's hot shot honesty, formalist Pound saying now ""the what is so much more important than the how"", Miss Porter scoffing at the twenties- ""a place where they could call F. Scott Fitzgerald a great writer"", and, above all, supreme stylist Henry Green sardonically remarking upon style: pushed too far it's ""like a man making cat's cradles with spider's webs"". A fine, fascinating mirror of the moderns, for the literati everywhere.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1963
Publisher: Viking