View Full Version : A sixteen year old kid asked famous writers about symbolism...

Layla Nahar
12-01-2015, 06:58 AM

"It was 1963, and 16-year-old Bruce McAllister was sick of symbol-hunting in English class. Rather than quarrel with his teacher, he went straight to the source: McAllister mailed a crude, four-question survey to 150 novelists, asking if they intentionally planted symbolism in their work. Seventy-five authors responded. Here’s what 12 of them had to say. (Copies of the survey responses (http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2011/12/05/document-the-symbolism-survey/) can be found at the Paris Review.)"

Ray Bradury, Isaac Asimov, Ayn Rand, John Updike, Joseph Heller.. The list goes on.

I guess a few people here might get a kick out of this :)

12-03-2015, 12:01 AM
I guess a few people here might get a kick out of this :)

I love the breadth of answers, and how they're more or less exactly what I expected.

My favorite is probably this one:

"There is much more symbolism in ordinary life than some critics seem to realize."

12-03-2015, 12:16 AM
I liked Bradbury's answers. Also the proofreading marks.

12-03-2015, 10:21 PM
Asimov and Bradbury made sense to me. Most of the others sounded like they hadn't really thought about it, and just made up answers on the spot.

This much I know. Critics and English professors will find symbolism in your work even if you did not intentionally place it there, and even if it isn't there at all.

This I also know. Even when a writer intentionally places symbolism in a work, most critics will miss it, and point at something else, and very, very, very few readers give a damn either way. I've never met a reader who gave a damn about symbolism, unless that reader was a writer, or in a creative writing class. General readers just don't care. They're after story and character, not symbolism.

I think Bradbury had it right with all his answers.