Wednesday, June 28, 2006
CM: There are two parts in your question. The first maybe is easier to answer than the second. The first, what kind of literature, what kind of works? I have been developing more and more towards the idea that the measure of literature is the amount of reality caught by words. And after all those abuses, horrible abuses, of the word "realism," it is a daring thing to say such a...Cynthia Haven edited both this book and an earlier collection of conversations with Joseph Brodsky. For a taste of her own criticism, try this essay on Jane Hirshfield, which just appeared on the Poetry Foundation website.
CM: But I have been thinking a lot about how relatively little of the reality of our century has been captured by words, and for me it's, hmm, I would measure the literary works by that real presence of objective reality, in poems and novels.
JB: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
CM: So. So this is the first part of the question. The second--what authors?--is much more difficult. I an unable to answer that question because, you know, our readings are often very important for our own subjective reasons--
JB: Yes, but that's the whole point, ya?
CM: Ya. And it's very difficult to have an assessment of twentieth-century literature. Sometimes, you know, it's more or less the way we read. I don't know what your experience is, but very often my best readings were in the bookstore (laughter). Sometimes one page, ya?
Labels: Czeslaw Milosz