“If one could write a single page of Tolstoy’s War and Peace or Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, why in the hell would you want to write a book about them. There are light years between the acts of creation and even the finest criticism and commentary ….. Pushkin had a wonderful image: he said ‘you’re the mailman; please carry the letters’. And it’s fun and exciting; I am immensely grateful for my life and profession. I am a mailman and sometimes I have been able to carry the letters to the right box, to the right readers, saying: read this, look at this. I’ve never mixed it up with writing the letter, as Pushkin most unkindly reassured us.”
In an earlier post I shared a quote on this theme. In his Desert Island Discs interview, George Steiner makes the point differently but with great clarity.