Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Interview with Isabel Allende

Interview with Isabel Allende in The Guardian.
Allende speaks powerfully of her literary inheritance, in particular the influence of Shakespeare. She would draw the characters in a play and then cut them out, making each stand up with a match stick "so I would know what the heck was going on". Reading Shakespeare left the sediment that turned her into a writer, she says. "I love King Lear, Romeo and Juliet. You take just a little piece, even out of context and he's great. When I read it, it wasn't for its literary value. I was entertained by the story."

Her purpose as a writer, she says, is to "convey something and for that I have to trap the reader's attention. If I lose them, then what I write is lost. As a journalist you know that what you write competes with other things in the same paper. Writers often write for friends or critics, and forget readers. I feel the book and characters choose me, and if I allow enough time, they will talk. I ask myself, 'Why am I doing this'? 'Why am I writing about the Gold Rush?' [explored in her book Daughters of Fortune]. Then at the end, I realise I have been exploring something that has been related to me and my life and temperament. It's a book about a woman trapped in Victorian times, trapped in a life and a corset. She decides to confront the masculine world. She has no tools or weapons to fend for herself. She needs to dress like a man, act like a man to survive. Isn't that what my generation of feminists did? Exactly that."
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