There are many things I’ve written that I didn’t really understand until a long time later.
Syntax and vocabulary are overwhelming constraints --the rules that run us. Language is using us to talk --we think we're using the language, but language is doing the thinking, we're its slavish agents.
Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing.... It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.
I also had this mistaken dream, fantasy really - perhaps because I'm good at languages - of being able in both Italy and France to become someone else through my fluency in the language.
Music had been my first love among the arts, and I was fascinated by it, as I still am.
I was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, for a while, about which the less said the better, and then I was in the Mediterranean, about which the more said the better.
And I finished college because I thought how much it would upset my parents if I didnt.
I think situations are more important than plot and character.
I left Princeton, but I graduated Harvard, in 1952.
I graduated in 1952 and went to Europe, with Niki and our first child Laura, who was then a year old.
My dream, I remember, when I went to boarding school, was to have a study all my own, a little nook someplace where nobody could get at me - nobody, like the football coach.
My idea was to go to Vienna to study conducting and perhaps play in an orchestra first, so I thought before I got to Vienna I could do with a little training in Paris.
I'd been brought up on the Upper East Side in a WASP society, which was death on crutches.
What I said about John was that he liberated me from my anxieties about writing in a correct, acceptable way.
Write about the things that attract you. Choose your subjects the way you used to choose your toys: out of desire.
You make something. You give up expressing and start inventing.
It's true, I had an extremely delicious life, but that was my life at home, and perhaps because I was only a child, or for whatever reasons, I found the company of others, especially other boys, quite terrifying and upsetting.
After the navy, I transferred to Harvard and finished there. I was there the spring term of 1951 and I stayed through the summer term and a whole other year, so I was able to do two years in a little less than a year and a half.
And then, when I left Princeton in the middle of my sophomore year, I went into the navy.
It has always been something I could do, and it may seem odd that in my case I seem to create an interesting narrative and frustrate the readers opportunities to follow it at every step.
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