Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Monday, October 21, 2013

Beautiful things

A leaf from a commonplace book, on that interesting topic, beauty...

Hugh Nissenson:

One of the things that I felt I wanted to do as an artist was to expand the frontiers of my imagination as much as I could; to follow wherever my imaginative facility took me, and to create alternate worlds. I believe deeply that one of the reasons that we get a kick out of reading novels -- for that matter going to the movies -- is that it plunges us instantaneously into an alternate reality....

What is consistent in my work is thematic material. The themes remain the same, but the metaphors that objectify these themes have changed utterly over the years. My objective has been also, quite frankly, in addition to trying to evolve, to push the form of the novel in ways that are new -- and writers don't talk about it -- but I wanted to make beautiful things. I really feel compelled to make beautiful things, beautiful artifacts, out of my words.

Hawthorne, "The Artist of the Beautiful":

Thus it is that ideas, which grow up within the imagination and appear so lovely to it and of a value beyond whatever men call valuable, are exposed to be shattered and annihilated by contact with the practical. It is requisite for the ideal artist to possess a force of character that seems hardly compatible with its delicacy; he must keep his faith in himself while the incredulous world assails him with its utter disbelief; he must stand up against mankind and be his own sole disciple, both as respects his genius and the objects to which it is directed.

Isaac Bashevis Singer:

Favorite story in the Torah? Is there a single story in the Torah which is not beautiful? They all are. Absolutely all. The story of Sodom, or the story of Joseph and his brothers, and the story of Lot, and Jacob and Rachel, Isaac and Rebecca--it's all beauty.


  1. So inspiring. I feel the same, and I love what Hawthorne said. <3

  2. Hi Robbi and Melinda Jane--

    Of course a poet and a fiction writer would like these! Yes, I dearly love Hawthorne.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.