Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Writers' literary personae

[W]riters of all kinds are superstitious about their gifts and about their relationship to their readers. They know in their hearts that their literary personae are not quite what they themselves are—to pick an extreme example, the narrator of Justine, by the Marquis de Sade, was far more ruthless and imaginative than the Marquis himself. The rest of us writers are not quite so funny nor so compassionate nor so tough, nor so enterprising nor so discerning in our lives as we are in our books. If we were, then our friends and family would esteem us as highly as some of our readers do. And so it is an act of some bravery to lay aside the persona at the behest of a newspaper and come forth as oneself, dull, sublunary, just a guy or a gal, with quirks and crochets [sic] and odd habits.
Jane Smiley, "Introduction," in Writers on Writing Volume II (2003), p. xii

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