I have written before about the process of writing, both in general and in this blog in particular. While I do not claim to write literature; nevertheless I felt some empathy with a couple of statements in Michel Houllebecq‘s novel ‘Submission‘. The first was ‘…only literature can put you in touch with another human spirit, as a whole, with all its weaknesses and grandeurs, its limitations, its pettinesses, its obsessions, its beliefs; with whatever it finds moving, exciting or repugnant.’ And the second was ‘Even in our deepest most lasting friendships, we never speak as openly as when we face a blank page and address a reader we do not know.’ I know a few people who read this blog but they are a tiny minority of the readers so essentially I am addressing a reader I do not know when I write a post. However, my posts sometimes lead to a conversation that is more open than would have happened without the post. Inevitably, these conversations occur with the small number of readers with whom I am in direct contact. However, I suspect that I reveal my limitations and obsessions to all of my readers, I hope I avoid my pettinesses while enthusing you with what I find moving or exciting, such as Michel Houellebecq’s novel this week or Olga Tokarczuk’s last week.
Source: Michel Houellebecq, Submission, Vintage, 2016.
Image: Barbara Hepworth sculpture in the garden of Hepworth Museum, St Ives
I have never read any Houellebecq but I recently read L’Egoiste Romantique by Fredéric Beigbeder, who references him a lot. I agree that literature puts you in contact with the rest of humanity – better, on the whole, than journalism can. Keep it up – I see no pettiness!
I was pleased to hear of someone enthused over Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead. Incidentally, it was because of your posts that I became aware of the Women’s Prize for Fiction books. Because I prefer to find books in public libraries rather than buy more books, however, the titles are sometimes harder to find.