On Moral Fiction

From Quotes
There are more ideas on earth than intellectuals imagine. And these ideas are more active, stronger, more resistant, more passionate than "politicians" think. We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them. Ideas do not rule the world. But it is because the world has ideas... that it is not passively ruled by those who are its leaders or those who would like to teach it, once and for all, what it must think.
Michel Foucault
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On Moral Fiction (1977), essay by John Gardner.

  • "Technically our novelists (for instance) are shrewd enough, and publishers and reviewers seem, as never before, eager to be of use. Nevertheless, wherever we look it's the same: commercial slickness, misplaced cleverness, posturing, wild floundering -- dullness. Though not widely advertised, this is general knowledge. When one talks with editors of serious fiction, they all sound the same: they speak of their pleasure and satisfaction in their work, but more often than not the editor cannot think, under the moment's pressure, of a single contemporary writer he really enjoys reading. Some deny, even publicly, that any first-rate American novelists now exist. The ordinary reader has been saying that for years..."

pp. 56-57 (in the HarperCollins BasicBooks edition), "Premises on Art and Morality"

  • "True art is by its nature moral. We recognize true art by its careful, thoroughly honest search for and analysis of values."

p. 19 (in the HarperCollins BasicBooks edition), "Premises on Art and Morality"

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