Although I rarely write fiction, for those who do this is a “must read.”
I want to lace together snippets of François Mauriac’s 1953 interview in the Paris Review, specifically where he’s talking about the novel. I lived unaware of Mauriac until I read Gregory Wolfe’s Beauty Will Save the World. His best books I can’t even buy at Powell’s. He was highly influential for many of America’s esteemed writers.
My opinion hasn’t changed. I believe that my younger fellow novelists are greatly preoccupied with technique. They seem to think a good novel ought to follow certain rules imposed from outside. In fact, however, this preoccupation hampers them and embarrasses them in their creation. The great novelist doesn’t depend on anyone but himself. Proust resembled none of his predecessors and he did not have, he could not have, any successors. The great novelist breaks his mold; he alone can use it. Balzac created the “Balzacian” novel; its style was suitable only for…
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