Peter Taylor Quotes
“Forgetting the injustices and seeming injustices which one suffered from one’s parents during childhood and youth must be the major part of any maturing process. I kept repeating this to myself, as though it were a lesson I would at some future time be accountable for. A certain oblivion was what we must undergo in order to become adults and live peacefully with ourselves.”
“I feel strongly against professionalism, against someone’s feeling he has to write a book every year to keep his name before the public. I see people processing themselves, torturing themselves, for that, rather than writing out of a compulsion some story from their own experience, their own feelings. That’s the way you should write, unless you are just practicing. I tell young writers to steal a plot or an idea or whatever, just to get going. See how a character comes out, how you fit it into your life . . . You see great writers doing it too.”
“I’ve always had a dislike of any form of didacticism, especially when it becomes the dominant element in writing. Character and emotional content should always be the strong elements. I think that was maybe what went wrong with my early novel, that I wanted it to be too profound, I was trying to put too much into it. I learned fairly early that one can handle only so much idea in a story. Well, or rather, I can!”
“I quote Frank O’Connor to my students: that when you are writing a story, at some point the story must take over. You are not going to be able to control it. I think this is true. O’Connor said he thought Joyce controls his stories too tightly—“Whoever heard of a Joyce story taking over?” he asked—and that there is a deadness about them. You have got to keep the story opened up, let the story take over at some point.”
“But maybe it was only that Father was thinking that he must arrive in Memphis with the entire family household intact if he was to make a new go of things...He did enter so, and perhaps that is what sustained him in the years immediately afterward, sustained him and in some degree destroyed the rest of us.”
“My own view of Father was not nearly so high-flown or complicated. For me he was flesh and blood and until the day I left Memphis behind, to take up residence in Manhattan, he remained simply a barrier between me and any independent life I might aspire to- a barrier to any pursuit of ideas, interests, goals that my temperament guided me toward.”
“I think trying to write is a religious exercise. You are trying to understand life, and you can only get the illusion of doing it fully by writing. That is, it’s the only way I can come to understand things fully. When I create, when I put my own mark on something and form it, I begin to know the whole truth about it, how it was put together. Then you can begin to change things around. You know all this after you have written a lot. You really know. And it has become the most important thing in your life. It has nothing to do with craft, or even art, in a way. It is making sense of life. It is coming to understand yourself.”
“I think he is the ornament of society! Oh, there is not just one role for the artist in society. He has many roles and he has a different role as society changes, and in different societies . . . He can be a seer at times, and in the eighteenth century he was the satirist, the artist stepping back and holding up the mirror to society. Moreover, I don’t think the same kind of person is necessarily an artist or a poet in one century as another.”
- Date of birth: January 08, 1917
- Died: November 02, 1994
- Born: in Trenton, The United States.
- Description: Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor was a U.S. author and writer. Considered to be one of the finest American short story writers, Taylor's fictional milieu is the urban South. His characters, usually middle or upper class people, often are living in a time of change and struggle to discover and define their roles in society.
Peter Taylor also wrote three novels, including A Summons to Memphis in 1986, for which he won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and In the Tennessee Country in 1994. His collection The Old Forest and Other Stories (1985) won the PEN/Faulkner Award. Taylor taught literature and writing at Kenyon and the University of Virginia.