Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Moral obligation to write well

What makes Philip Roth a great writer? No other writer I can name has accepted with such utter self-abnegating devotion to what I can only call, in a blatant allusion to John Erskine’s famous 1915 essay, the moral obligation to write well. This is, I believe, the sum and substance of what it means to respect the institution of literature.