Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Quoting Saul Bellow

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Jul• 22•15
DCF 1.0

DCF 1.0

There is an immense, painful longing for a broader, more flexible, fuller, more coherent, more comprehensive account of what we human beings are, who we are, and what this life is for.”

  “Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too, in the eye of the storm… Art has something to do with an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.”                                                       ~ Saul Bellow

Art and literature — what of them? … We are still able to think, to discriminate, and to feel. The purer, subtler, higher activities have not succumbed to fury or to nonsense. Not yet. Books continue to be written and read. It may be more difficult to reach the whirling mind of a modern reader but it is possible to cut through the noise and reach the quiet zone. In the quiet zone we may find that he is devoutly waiting for us. When complications increase, the desire for essentials increases too. The unending cycle of crises that began with the First World War has formed a kind of person, one who has livd through terrible, strange things, and in whom there is an observable shrinkage of prejudices, a casting off of disappointing ideologies, an ability to live with many kinds of madness, an immense desire for certain durable human goods — truth, for instance, or freedom, or wisdom.”  From his Nobel acceptance speech

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  1. As a Bellow fan, I’m sorry to see that no one has posted a comment on the quotes you offer. Could the reason be that Bellow’s hopeful remarks, elsewhere and in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech no longer apply, or are no longer heard? I can’t get a certain factoid out of my head: over half the readers of young adult novels are chronological adults. If this doesn’t point to the worst thing Saul Bellow could imagine–a massive, collective case of cultural arrested development–I don’t know what could.

    • jessicap says:

      I understand your concern, but I’m not as worried about this as I am about people not reading at all. I wonder if To Kill a Mockingbird would be considered Young Adult in today’s marketplace? I appreciate that people of all ages read it and kids are introduced to it in middle school or thereabouts. Jessica

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