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Monday, November 23, 2020

'As Long As You Have Ideas'

 As long as you have ideas, you can keep going. That's why writing fiction is so much fun: because you're moving people about, and making settings for them to move in, so there's always something there to keep working on.” – Guy Davenport

Writer, translator, illustrator, painter, intellectual, and teacher, Davenport was born on this day in 1927 and grew up in the South Carolina foothills of Appalachia.  He didn’t learn to read until he was nearly 10, but once he started he felt like he couldn’t stop.  And when he wasn’t reading, he was writing and drawing.  By age 11 he had started writing and illustrating a neighborhood newspaper.

He started writing essays while in college at Duke University, then went into "combined" career in education and writing.  While teaching at the University of Kentucky, he also authored 16 novels, 10 translations of other works, 5 books of poetry and more than 400 essays, the last one just days before his death in 2005.  He also did award-winning art, both drawings and paintings, for 40-plus years.

Despite his many successes in both the art 
and literary worlds, he still said his work 
as a professor was perhaps the most satisfying of his life, particularly when teaching about literature.

My view, as one who taught it,” he said,  “is that the whole purpose of a literary education should be to tell people that these things exist. I don't think any teacher should try to 'teach an author,' but rather simply describe what the author has written. And this is what I tried to do.”

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