Writers and Age

Essays on and Interviews with Five Authors

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About the Book

Since 1900, the average life expectancy in the developed world has almost doubled, from 45 to 80. “We are almost a new species,” declared the English writer V.S. Pritchett, while pointing out that this means “most of us have to face the prospect of a long old age before we die.” Pritchett is one of five great writers—along with Stanley Kunitz, Doris Lessing, Mavis Gallant and Russell Baker—whose novels, short stories, poems and essays about old age, written in old age, are examined in this book.
Born between 1900 (Pritchett) and 1925 (Baker), these writers are members of the first generation of the 20th century, and of the first generation of writers able to write about old age from experience. In their later works we read about growing old as reported by the old, not as imagined by the young and middle-aged. They wrote about old age not as a discrete stage of life, but as a continuation—another context in which to pursue the themes of their earlier poems, novels, stories and essays. And those who had written about love—a central theme of fiction and poetry—now wrote about love in old age.

About the Author(s)

Esther Harriott is former managing editor at the New York Public Library, contributing book reviewer at Newsday and director of cultural affairs at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She lives in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Esther Harriott
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 200
Bibliographic Info: notes, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3439-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1796-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments 6

Introduction 9

1. V. S. Pritchett 19

2. Interview with V. S. Pritchett 45

3. Stanley Kunitz 52

4. Interview with Stanley Kunitz 65

5. Doris Lessing 74

6. Interview with Doris Lessing 96

7. Mavis Gallant 105

8. Interview with Mavis Gallant 134

9. Russell Baker 149

10. Interview with Russell Baker 178

Chapter Notes 189

Index 195