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December 09, 1979 - Image 7

Resource type:
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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-12-09

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'Angus'
(Continued from Page 1)
and speeches in the area.
In a Viewpoint lecture Thursday
night, Wilson spoke extensively about
his writing. "I never dreamed of doing
such a thing," he said. "It never en-
tered my head."
After World War II, Wilson, a
librarian in the British Museum
Library in London, was occupied
primarily with amateur acting, but he
said he felt too old to immerse himself
in theater, "I think anyone who is over
35 and gives his life to acting - well,
something ought to be looked at to see
what's gone wrong with him," he said.
AT THE TIME, Wilson was also
politically active, but he said he thought
the time for politics was over. He began
writing short stories on weekends as a
hobby, and his first book was not
published until he was 37. Soon after, he
left his position in the prestigious
British Museum reading room to write
full-time, and he has been writing
novels, stories, critical essays, and ar-
ticles ever since.
In addition to writing and traveling
extensively, Wilson is a professor
emeritus at the University of East
Anglia in England and he has taught
and lectured at universities all over
America.
In a recent interview, Wilson said he
enjoyed his term in Ann Arbor and
found the faculty and students very in-
teresting. But he had reservations
about other aspects of the University.
"I just don't like the campus," he said.
"The buildings are really rather
awful."
However, he does approve of the Law
Quad which was modeled after his alma
mater, Oxford.
In his classes here, Wilson en-
courages anA informal and unpressured
atmosphere. He gives no exams and
does nyt require class participation.
"They're not very structured classes,
and you only get out of them as much as
you put in," said LSA senior Jeff Miller,.
who is taking both of Wilson's courses.
IN HIS LECTURES, Wilson main-
tains a steady flow of information and
anecdotes. During a recent session, he
earnestly told the class, "If ever there
was a woman who looked like a horse,
George Eliot was one. Nevertheless,"
he continued, "she was an extremely
sensual woman - and why the hell
not?"
Wilson usually comes to class attired
in a grey flannel suit with flambouyant
ties and colorful socks, and his glasses
are always perched precariously at the
tip of his nose. For many of his studen-
ts, these eccentricities are all part of
Wilson's charm. "I love the fact that he
wears these ridiculous ties," said LSA
senior Elizabeth Asbury. "In him,

colors A2

with charm

we've hit upon one in a million-billion,"
she added.
In class, Wilson habitually shuffles
through a mass of papers, muttering
"Lord lummy (Lord love me), what
have I done with my notes now?" Once
he looked quizzically up at two students
and said, "Good Lord, you must think
I'm in my second childhood!" But ac-
cording to Asbury, there's no need for
him to act any differently. "I suppose
he could act like a real grown-up, but he
treasures his childhood so much," she
said.
MUCH OF Wilson's fiction is drawn
from his own experiences in childhood,
and he is fond of talking about his
youth. He contends that memory is the
basic ingredient in a successful novel,
and that the writer must only write
about familiar subjects and places.
According to Wilson, there is no un-
derlying philosophy in his work. "I only
feel that I must be true to life as I see
it," he explained.
Although Wilson said he loves
Charles Dickens' novels, and admitted
there is a lot of Dickens in his own work,
he added, "There is the sense that
Dickens is trying to do good in his books
and I hope I don't do that." Yet Wilson
said he and Dickens share a common
approach to literature: "I'm sorry to
say that Dickens told lies just as I do,
just as any writer that's any good
does . . . and it is the basis of fiction."
WHEN WRITING, Wilson asserts
that the fictional world one creates has
to be wholly coherent and all the
elements of the novel must fit together
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realistically. Even when Wilson is con-
centrating on a scene involving one
character, he makes careful mental
notes on what every other character
would be doing at the exact same time.
Wilson's novels include Anglo-Saxon
Attitudes, As If By Magic, A Bit Off the
Man, and Wild Garden, as well as a
critical work on Rudyard Kipling.
Wilson wrote his first novel in four
weeks, but each successive book has
taken longer. "I love writing novels, but
there are some very painful times when
you wonder if it's going to go right," he
said.

When faced with writer's blocks,
Wilson said it is the force of the
narrative that makes him continue. He
added that he cannot leave his charac-
ters in the middle of the story and feels
he must resolve their gonflicts.
"WHEN I'VE done one thing,"
Wilson said about his novels, "I want to
do something quite different. But as
Graham Greene told me, this is no way
to make yourself a best seller." Wilson
contends that because each of his
novels has a different appeal, he cannot
maintain the same group of fans.

The Michigan Daily-Sunday, December 9, 1979-Page 7
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