Books The Sources of Literary Creation
posted by March 4 at 12:59 PMon
One source is surely wine…
Cratinus wasn’t entirely kidding: Legend says he died of grief upon seeing a full cask of wine break into pieces. And writers of subsequent ages have taken his sentiment to heart. Wherever you find the pen-and-ink set, drink is an emblem of vivacity and wit, at times regarded with semireligious reverence.
Some writers have found even deeper use for alcohol. Tennyson, according to his friend James Knowles’ 1893 reminiscence, would “look upon his bottle of port as a sort of counsellor.” When the poet received the letter offering him the poet laureateship of Britain, he brooded inconclusively until finally composing two letters — one accepting and one declining — placing them on his table and resolving to decide which to send after finishing his bottle of port. He accepted.
Intoxication, if not the source of literary creation, creates a cerebral aura congenial to it. It recasts the glare of life in a softer hue. It soothes anxiety and other stultifiers of reflection. It warms the mind and thaws thoughts frozen in timidity. The fruit of the vine does not give us insight but aids our discovery of it; it can allow you to eavesdrop on yourself.
De vin, de poesie ou de vertu, a votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous.