Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Friday, April 22, 2005  

Like anyone, writers, of course, are embarrassed by excessive praise, just as readers are burdened by their excessive gratitude--one cannot keep going on about it. And, eventually, it is easier to turn the beloved literary work into a kind of disembodied third party: to admit that the work itself exceeds the writer, that it sails--sails in atmosphere, indeed!--away from the writer and toward the delighted reader. In the final year of Saul's life, as he became very frail, I would read some of his own prose to him; something he would doubtless have found, as a younger man, mawkish or cloying or tiresome. It did not feel any of those things, as Bellow sat there in forgetful frailty; rather it felt as if I were gently reminding him of his own talent and that he was grateful for this, and perhaps grateful for my gratitude. But, in truth, I could not thank him enough when he was alive, and I cannot now.

-- James Wood does his best to thank Saul Bellow.

posted by Jonathan | 6:29 PM 0 comments


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