Saturday, February 23, 2008

On Elizabeth Hardwick (1916–2007)

At a memorial service for Elizabeth Hardwick, Darryl Pinckney and Joan Didion shared their memory of the late co-founder of The New York Review. The full article is available online.

From Darryl Pinckney:

"Sometimes she read in order to write, in order to begin, to find her way in. She agreed with Virginia Woolf that to read poetry before you wrote could open the mind. She typed at a desk upstairs in her apartment on West 67th Street; she typed at her heavy machine on the dining room table. She wrote in big handwriting on legal pads that then waited on end tables for her doubts; she wrote in little notebooks that she tucked between the cushions of the red velvet sofa. When she wrote, books piled up all around her, opened, or face down, each asking questions of her, whispering about the way in."

... ...

"Writing was not a collaboration. In the solitude of the blank page, everyone was up against the limits of himself or herself."

From Joan Didion:

"She understood at the bone the willful transgression implicit in the literary enterprise—knew that to express oneself was to expose oneself, that to seize the stage was to court humiliation—and she accepted the risk. Every line she wrote suggested that moral courage required trusting one's own experience in the world, one's own intuitions about how it worked."

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