One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Elizabeth Bishop on J. D. Salinger


... I HATED THE Salinger story. It took me days to go through it, gingerly, a page at a time, and blushing with embarrassment for him every ridiculous sentence of the way. How can they let him do it? That horrible self-consciousness, every sentence comments on itself and comments on itself commenting on itself, and I think it was actually supposed to be funny. And if the poems were so good, why not just give us one or two and shut up, for God's sake? That Seymour figure doesn't impress me at all as anything extra -- or is that the point and I've been missing it? GOD is in any slightly superior, sensitive, intelligent human being or something? or WHAT? and WHY? And is it true that The New Yorker can't change a word he writes? It seems to be the exact opposite of those fine old-fashioned standards of writing Andy White admires so, and yet it isn't "experimental" or original -- it's just tedious. Now if I am running counter to all the opinions at present, tell me why, because I'd like to know how it can be defended ... Perhaps Seymour isn't supposed to be anything out of the ordinary, nor his poems either, so that all that writhing and reeling is to show the average man trying to express his love for his brother, or brotherly love? Well, Henry James did it much better in one or two long sentences.
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