The Perils of Command. David Donachie. By the Mast Divided. A Divided Command. A Sea of Troubles. Enemies at Every Turn. Sailing Orders. David O'Neil.
Blown Off Course. A Flag of Truce. Bernard Cornwell. The Empty Throne. A Treacherous Coast. Those in Peril. Wilbur Smith. Copperhead The Starbuck Chronicles, Book 2. Rebel The Starbuck Chronicles, Book 1. On a Particular Service. Vicious Circle. The Devil to Pay. A Close Run Thing. Harlequin The Grail Quest, Book 1. Stonehenge: A Novel of BC. Wars of the Roses: Stormbird. Conn Iggulden.
An Ill Wind.
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Enemy of God. A Shot Rolling Ship.
The Devil's Own Luck. A Game of Bones. A Hanging Matter. The Admirals' Game. The Dying Trade. An Awkward Commission. The Scent of Betrayal. An Element of Chance. The Blackstrap Station. Alaric Bond. Distant Gunfire. HMS Prometheus. It moves because it is alive. Power does not like the truth, because power needs to fix it in place—to imprison, tame, and use the truth. But truth changes. Literature attempts to pursue this changing truth, to pursue the change itself. When literature separates from truth, rhetoric appears. My perception is that, with very few exceptions, universities teach rhetoric.
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We study a distorted literature—etymological, unlived. In this sense it is an anti-literary education. We must spend our lives fighting self-deception. The university as I know it aims to establish knowledge and convert it into a comfortable rhetoric. How do you keep a balance between the three in your own writing? I guess writing is basically done to keep the faith that it all serves some purpose. But you will never know the result of your book. It is also a changing truth. One needs a very delicate language for a very delicate conversation.
As I said, Catalan writers had always kept an eye trained beyond the borders. Somehow Sagarra, Pla, Rodoreda, and Carner all already anticipated the possibility of this international conversation. Sure, the responses have arrived long after these authors have died, but very often literature is a seed.
To put it another way, authors contaminate each other. Literature is like a family, with all the consanguinity and heritages. There are families with good and bad reputations, there are dysfunctional families, there are mafia families, influential families, poor families.
The Catalans by Patrick O'Brian
You cannot help but think of his family when you think about someone. And needless to say, as an author, having a good tradition behind you is ninety percent of your work. At the moment, the critical reception has been enthusiastic. As an author, this is a little scary.
Being indoors is very comfortable. But much of the work in writing consists of confronting challenges. I almost felt sorry for her. Or is the Internet simply a new border for writers—Catalan writers—to look beyond? It has many consequences, as the invention of the printing press had, or even as the origin of writing itself had. Both writing and printing immediately aroused justified mistruths. Plato warned that writing can give you an appearance of wisdom, but not wisdom. Internet writing is fluctuating, constantly moving.
The Internet allows a kind of irresponsible writing. You receive instant feedback on what you write, and that blurs your responsibility. This is very dangerous for a writer.
What distinguishes the writer from the reader is that the writer goes first. The writer must be able to keep a distance from the reader in order to maintain his freedom and responsibility, and the Internet makes this much more difficult. Things seem to be moving very fast right now and in very ugly directions.
In your view, what responsibilities does the writer have in this particularly violent contemporary moment? This may sound obvious, but it is not so. They are experts in moral violence but not in physical violence. We can ask them for responsibility in the same way that we can ask for it of a musician or a baker: merely a responsibility of his person. There have been towering writers of all ideologies, including Nazism. You can incite violence from writing, obviously, but I doubt that successful literature—in its purest form—can succeed in that way, because its goal is to describe the complications and the final ambiguities of the world.
Because good and evil always demand a process of simplification, literature cannot make us better, only more complicated. On the other hand, it is very appropriate to ask a Catalan writer of his responsibilities, because Catalan writers have very often been used by politics, and turned to politics themselves.
If the only way to solve problems was through literature, humanity would have stopped trying. Hal Hlavinka is the event coordinator at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more. Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers.
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