Monday, 1 November 2010

How to be a great writer

This is from a letter to the London Review of Books by Alex Johnston. I thought it worth exposing to a smaller audience:

John Barthe tells an anecdote about the great writer Donald Barthelme, who
'…asked by a student how to become a better writer, suggests reading the entire history of philosophy "from the Presocratics right up through last semester". The student worriedly replies that Barth has already advised his class to read all of literature "from Gilgamesh up through last semester". "That too", Barthelme agrees, and adds: "You're probably wasting your time on eating and sleeping. Cease that, and read all of philosophy and all of literature. Also art. Plus politics and a few other things. The history of everything"… asked why he wrote the way he did, he liked to reply: "Because Samuel Beckett already writes the way he does".'

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