Annie Dillard on the Written Word

Annie Dillard[If] you want to live, you have to die;”  Annie Dillard

American author Annie Dillard has been called a mystic, a visionary, a naturalist and a modern Thoreau.  Her writing is  characterized as literary collage of the lyrical, the metaphoric and the richly descriptive. She has written over eleven books including poetry, novels, essays, memoirs, and books on writing and on nature, including Pilgrim at Tinker Creek for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. Her website provides a complete list of her work.

The following excerpt is from The Writing Life.

The written word is weak. Many people prefer life to it. Life gets your blood going, and it smells good. Writing is mere writing, literature is mere. It appeals only to the subtlest senses– the imagination’s vision, and the imagination’s hearing–and the moral sense, and the intellect. This writing that you that so thrills you, that so rocks, and exhilarates you, as if you were dancing next to the band, is barely audible to anyone else. The reader’s ear must adjust down from the loud life to the subtle, imaginary sounds of the written word. An ordinary reader picking up a book can’t yet hear a thing; it will take half an hour to pick up the writer’s modulations, its ups and downs and louds and softs…

How long does it take you to find the rhythm of words in the books you read?


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