The novel may be good or it may be bad - but I am doing it easily, and at a great rate. It is not invention that lacks, but rather imagination. John Cowper Powys walked over the downs from Burpham today , and arrived before noon and stayed till after 5.30. He was delighted beyond measure when I spoke very highly of Dreiser's "An American Tragedy". He said Dreiser was very susceptible to praise. He said that Dreiser had sold the film rights of the novel for $50,000.
Powys is a very sentimental man in many ways. He was rather in favour of the general strike, but gave in instantly to my argument that it was right to squash it; but I expect he is in favour of it again by this time. He has very fine literary taste except when he is misled by his few prejudices. I asked him about his days (not evenings) in provincial cities in America. He said he did nothing except walk about. He wanted to work, ie. write, but couldn't work in the hotel bedroom; at least had not seriously tried to. I told him I had written lots and lots in hotel bedrooms and he said that he should try. An untidy fellow of very great charm.
and The Powys Society
Sometimes, and this was one of those times, when I think back to a conversation or social encounter I am ashamed by my own pomposity. I think I have gotten worse as I have grown older. Do I really feel that I have some sort of monopoly of judgement about what constitutes literary taste? Of course I wrote a book on the subject but at that time I don't think I was the dogmatist that I seem to be now. My Standard articles sometimes incline towards the didactic but I like to think that they are softened by humour; unfortunately I find humour less easy to come by in personal intercourse.
Additionally for June 11th., see'Originality in fiction'
Writing about books in the Evening Standard, having recently attended the presentation of the Hawthornden Prize, I was reflecting on the ability of literary panels to reward originality. My revolutionary thoughts on this matter run thus. No selection committee of nice-minded authors and bookish persons can choose a really original work. Their intentions are excellent. They have a genuine desire to serve the Lord. But in their humanity and their righteousness they are apt to forget the warning of the writer of Ecclesiasticus: "My son, if thou come to serve the lord, prepare thy soul for temptation."