Great writer = good person? Not on your Nelly.

Para cuándo el Nobel de Literatura. Barcelona ...

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Is there any correlation between being a great writer and being a good person? I recall reading somewhere in an interview with Borges that he seemed to think that a truly great writer was likely be a good person (without looking too closely at what either of these rather dubious terms actually means).

Not on the evidence of a recent literary event I attended, in which a world-famous and excellent poet showed himself to be a bit of a rotter, and a really dreadful poet, by contrast, turned out to be quite a decent fellow, if a little on the dim side.  All this should not surprise anyone. Writers are just like other people, but more so, because nowadays they are expected to be visible in ways that they never were before. This accounts for a lot.

There is also the factor that once a person receives recognition and rewards, they achieve a status that automatically confers a degree of power, and as is well known, power is the most corrupting influence known to humanity.

So no, don’t expect great writers to be good people, in fact the chances are that there is a higher proportion of total shits among them than elsewhere, as so many writers have extraordinarily inflated egos. Which makes it all the more agreeable when you meet an exceptionally good writer who is also a decent person. Fortunately, there are a few of them around too.

In other words, as Bob Dylan frequently reminds us, and I have always maintained, we are all pretty much the same in our differences, whatever our profession or calling, and that power – as we all know – corrupts.




2 Comments on “Great writer = good person? Not on your Nelly.

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