domingo, 27 de maio de 2012

When I began writing, I always said to myself that my ideas were very shallow - that if a reader saw through them, he would despise me. And so I disguised myself. In the beginning, I tried to be a seventeenth-century Spanish writer with a certain knowledge of Latin. My knowledge of Latin was quite slight. I do not think of myself now as a seventeenth-century Spanish writer, and my attempts to be Sir Thomas Browne in Spanish failed utterly. Or perhaps they evolved quite a dozen fine-sounding lines. Of course, I was out for purple patches. Now I think purple patches are a mistake. I think they are a mistake because they are a sign of vanity, and the reader thinks of them as being signs of vanity. If the reader thinks that you have moral defect, there is no reason whatever why he should admire you or put up with you.

Then I fell into a very common mistake: I did my best to be - of all things - modern. Now, there is a character in Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre who says: "Well, you may say of me what you like, but nobody will deny that I am a contemporary." I see no difference between that quite absurd character in Goethe's novel and the wish to be modern. Because we are modern; we don't have to strive to be modern. It is not a case of subject matter or of style.

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