Writing the bridge between Robinson’s mind and the world

Meghan O’Rourke profiles Marilynne Robinson in the New York Times Magazine. Robinson’s Gilead appears November 19,* a full twenty-three years after her only prior novel, the prize-winning Housekeeping, and long after “most readers had disappointedly concluded that Robinson could not rediscover her fictional voice. She would be written into American literary history as another Harper Lee.”

Not so, says O’Rourke, who paints a fascinating portrait of the brilliant and solitary Robinson. Here’s an excerpt:

Exploring the demands of conscience is the heart of Robinson’s work. Writing is not just an artistic calling but also a religious one: “As a child, I couldn’t see any bridge between where I was in my mind and the world around me. And I like people. I want to interact with them in meaningful ways. I do feel as though I am a highly specialized creature, and other people sort of amaze me with the fluency” — she paused to laugh, darkly, at her own predicament — “with which they do the waltz. If I couldn’t write, I don’t know what would happen, because that is the bridge, you know.”

* Thanks to Thisbe Nissen for the date.


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