Saturday, January 29, 2022

A life in letters …

… Colm Tóibín — Snail Slow: Letters to John McGahern  LRB 27 January 2022. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Despite the autobiographical elements in his fiction, McGahern wasn’t especially interested in exploring his own psyche. He rowed in familiar waters because the cadences in the prose and the resonant images came more naturally to him. And it was cadence and image that energised him, not self-revelation. In a letter from 1960, before he had published anything, he wrote: ‘The common notion that you can make art out of your life, refinement of pleasure etc, is pure moonshine as far as I see it. There must be some morality. You might as well call the philanderer a lover.’

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