The literary genre

“What we now normally consider the mainstream—so called realistic fiction—is a small literary genre, fairly recent in origin, which is likely to be relatively short lived. When I look back at the foundations of literature, I see literary figures who, if they were alive today, would probably be members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Homer? He would certain belong to the SFWA. So would Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare. That tradition is literature’s mainstream, and it has been what has grown out of that tradition which has been labeled SF or whatever label you want to use”

— Gene Wolfe

Not a new idea, but an authoritative source.

From this interview.

Two ships crashing in the night

I see now that when we met, my writing, like hers, left its old path and started to circle and search. To me, of course, she was not only herself: she was America and American literature in person. I don’t know what I was to her. Apart from the more monumental classics — Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and so on — my background reading was utterly different from hers. But our minds soon became two parts of one operation. We dreamed a lot of shared or complementary dreams. Our telepathy was intrusive.

— Ted Hughes


There was a movie writer who always seemed to have his best ideas in the middle of the night, and when he woke up in the morning, he never remembered them. So one day the man had a brilliant idea. He said to himself, “I’ll put a paper and pencil beside my bed, and when I get the idea, I’ll write it down.” So he went to bed and, sure enough, in the middle of the night he awoke with a terrific idea. He wrote it down and went back to sleep. When he awoke, the next morning, he’d forgotten the whole thing, but all of a sudden, as he was shaving, he thought to himself, “Oh God, I had a terrific idea again last night, and now I’ve forgotten it. But wait, I had my paper and pencil; that’s right, I wrote it down!” So he rushed into the bedroom and picked up the note and read what he’d written: “Boy meets girl.”

— Alfred Hitchcock


In the small hours when the acrid stench of existence rises like sewer gas from everything created, the emptiness of life seems more terrible than its misery.

— Cyril Connolly

Connolly was a child prodigy, an early rival of George Orwell, who also said that it is “[b]etter to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” His most remembered writing explores why he himself was not more successful as a writer.


We think we know a man or a woman, when so much of what we know is actually that man’s or that woman’s situation, his or her place on the board of life. Move the pawn to the last row and see her rise in armor, sword in hand.

— Gene Wolfe