The Task of a Writer

Joseph Conrad on his intentions as a novelist…

If the [artist’s] conscience is clear, his answer to those who in the fullness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused; who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked or charmed, must run thus: My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel- it is, before all, to make you see. That- and no more, and it is everything. If I succeed, you shall find there, according to your deserts, encouragement, consolation, fear, charm, all you demand- and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask.

Quoted in Flannery O’Connor’s “The Nature and Aim of Fiction” in Mystery and Manners

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