12/17/2008

either husbands or lovers

I'm chewing on this quote from Susan Sontag today:

“Great writers are either husbands or lovers. Some writers supply the solid virtues of a husband: reliability, intelligibility, generosity, decency. There are other writers in whom one prizes the gifts of a lover, gifts of temperament rather than of moral goodness. Notoriously, women tolerate qualities in a lover—moodiness, selfishness, unreliability, brutality—that they would never countenance in a husband, in return for excitement, an infusion of intense feeling. In the same way, readers put up with unintelligibility, obsessiveness, painful truths, lies, bad grammar — if, in compensation, the writer allows them to savor rare emotions and dangerous sensations. And, as in life, so in art both are necessary, husbands and lovers. It’s a great pity when one is forced to choose between them.”

4 comments:

Alisa said...

Wow. This helps me understand why I have some of the feelings I do about certain books, and the disagreements I have with some of my friends on some popular books. I'm chewing on the idea that in real life both are necessary, though. :) In literature, yes, I get that.

jana said...

Alisa:
I think it might be worth noting, too, that most of Sontag's lovers were women. Gender is certainly an issue when you read this quotation while understanding her proclivity to take on female lovers even while she was married to a man.

What I'm musing on is whether my rather stolid academic writing fulfills my "husband-ly" needs whereas my blogging is like my illicit lover--full of the obsesiveness, painful truths, and lies that she refers to. hmmmmm....

Trying to Stay Calm! said...

Just wanted to stop by and wish you a blessed and very Merry Christmas! ♥ Hugs :) Shauna

Mother Earth aka Karen Hanrahan said...

chew away darlin ...fabulously stated ...

words like tolerate, infusion of intense feeling,bad grammar and savor grab me