From The Author’s Craft: On observation as a “moral act” and a novelist’s duty: Observation endows our day and our street with the romantic charm of history and stimulates charity – not the charity which signs cheques, but the more precious charity which puts itself to the trouble of understanding. On the geography of characters: […]
The best writers of the past are often conceived of as having anticipated the future, but most have preferred to put some distance between themselves and the inherent challenges of confronting either ‘tomorrow’ or ‘today.’ Writing is an act of reflection, and reflection requires the passage of time. Novels not explicitly conceived as futuristic or […]
One confession from Oliver Herford’s 1917 collection. Click on the image for more.
From Conrad’s short 1905 essay on Books: To be hopeful in an artistic sense it is not necessary to think that the world is good. It is enough to believe that there is no impossibility of its being made so. If the flight of imaginative thought may be allowed to rise superior to many moralities […]
The Abu Dhabi Book Fair‘s coming up and my publisher will again be taking part. The best part? You can flip through my book, Creative Lives: Portraits of Lebanese Artists, and maybe even take home your own copy at Turning Point’s dedicated space on the Ciel Stand (12 M 17). To get a better idea […]
I’ve just reread the darkly splendid Sacred Hunger so as to fully enjoy its recently published sequel The Quality of Mercy. Over the years, I’ve read five of Barry Unsworth’s historical novels, each of which cleave mind and sense so seamlessly that it’s possible to forget that they are ever at odds. In this lecture […]
In Chekhov: A Spirit Set Free, biographer V.S. Pritchett writes that his subject was careful to “unself” himself in his stories. Pritchett quotes Chekhov directly as telling publisher Aleksey Suvorin that a writer “must speak and think in [the characters’] tone and must feel as a fellow-spirit, otherwise the image will become blurred.” In an […]
In 2010, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Chekhov’s birth, The Guardian recalled his “brilliance in brief,” not only his own accomplishments but the advice he offered to other writers, the dictates he handed down: The most famous of these is commonly known as Chekhov’s Gun, which he defined in a letter to […]
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As the 150th anniversary of Edith Wharton’s birth arrives tomorrow, we remember her as an author popular in her own age and ours; an interior and landscape designer; an “haute bourgeoisie” New Yorker; after 1911, an American expatriate in France; a self-described “rabid” supporter of French imperialism; and, since September 2010, at least, as a […]