William Gass being painted by Philip Guston before a reading in 1969.
Photograph: Digital Gateway Image Collections
A collection of tips for writers published in the same year saw Gass advising: “Stay away from the machinery of the modern world. It will ruin your imagination. It will shape a heart break and make demands of their own kinds.” And: “Try to remember that artists in these catastrophic times, along with the serious scientists, are the only salvation for us, if there is to be any. Be happy because no one is seeing what you do, no one is listening to you, no one really cares what may be achieved, but sometimes accidents happen and beauty is born.”
Despite Gass’s ambivalence about the messy business of connecting with an audience, his wife, Mary Henderson Gass, told the St-Louis Post Dispatch the author had been corresponding with friends this autumn. He was “honoured to be associated with the best writers, ones that he admired”, she said. “That was his aspiration – to contribute something to the greater world of literature.”
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i.e. try continually to work out what your discipline is [/ disciplines are], through production, and thereby contribute to its [/ their] ongoing definition and expansion.