Creative Writing

Elif Batuman, nuova e vigorosa voce della letteratura americana, critica i programmi di creative writing, partendo da un libro uscito recentemente, The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing, di Mark McGurl (Harvard UP). La tesi di Batuman è interessante e coglie un punto importante che avevo notato senza veramente riuscire a esprimerlo con chiarezza: la mancanza di cultura letteraria e storico letteraria dei programmi di scrittura creativa. "Like many aspiring writers in America, I enrolled in graduate school after college, but I went for a PhD rather than an MFA. I had high hopes that McGurl, who made the same choice, might explain to me the value of contemporary American fiction in a way I could understand, but was disappointed to find in The Programme Era traces of the quality I find most exasperating about programme writing itself: oversophistication combined with an air of autodidacticism, creating the impression of some hyperliterate author who has been tragically and systematically deprived of access to the masterpieces of Western literature, or any other sustained literary tradition. McGurl himself observes that a limited historical consciousness is 'endemic to the discipline of creative writing, whose ultimate commitment is not to knowledge but to what Donald Barthelme called 'Not-Knowing'. Formed in the shadow of New Criticism, the creative writing discourse still displays 'not a commitment to ignorance, exactly, but … a commitment to innocence'. This commitment, this sense of writing being produced in a knowledge vacuum, is what turned me off the programme to begin with. Contemporary fiction seldom refers to any of the literary developments of the past 20, 50 or a hundred years. It rarely refers to other books at all. Literary scholarship may not be an undiluted joy to its readers, but at least it's usually founded on an ideal of the collaborative accretion of human knowledge." LRB.

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