William Gass

William Gass, in a 1987 interview

For a long time I abandoned an elaborate style because it simply wasn’t working—I wasn’t able to manage it at all. I went into a phase in philosophy and writing in general that was extremely disciplined and formal. I have a hunch that I am moving now from a baroque stage into a more clear, lyrical stage. That was always there, though. It just depends what kind of story I’m working on, I guess. I feel that I’m more likely to move in the direction of Henry James and get more mannered. I don’t mind that at all. I like late James better than anything. I like late things: Finnegans Wake, late quartets by Beethoven, late Bartok, late Verdi, late Yeats. They’re breaking through their manner to something absolutely different. And if you’re very, very lucky, that’s what happens. What Borges has decided to do is to simply be Borges, which I would be happy to be, of course. But to do something like Fuentes is doing is to constantly push, to try new things. That is more exciting to me, that breaking through. Late Beethoven breaks through and finds for himself a new scheme. Of course, that’s just a dream. He had to be a great artist to do that.

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