Having recently (well, recently enough) read Paula McClain’s The Paris Wife and seen Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, I am well aware of, and fascinated by, the great literary friendships of the Lost Generation. I’m embarrassed to say, however, that I didn’t even think of all the other author pals who have existed throughout history. When Lauren sent me this article just yesterday that starts off with Hemingway/Fitzgerald and explores the impact of other great writers who were admirers of and friends to one another, I dove right in.
Many of them I had previously been aware of—Shelley and Byron, of course, Tolkien and Lewis, Wordsworth and Coleridge (I’ll always have a soft spot for the Romantics, and I’m sure everyone else here at DGLM is groaning a “you would” right now), and Emerson and Thoreau are an obvious pair…though I never noticed before how strongly each resembles Abraham Lincoln in distinct ways. The rest, however, were new to me, and both surprising and not. Writing is in so many ways such a solitary endeavor, yet we tend to flock towards those with similar values, sentiments and aspirations to our own. While there were clearly disagreements—some of the physical—it was also, what I can assume, a benefit to the craft of each of these well-known figures. Without the ability to defend one’s own ideas to a compatriot who is willing to cut one down to size, yet also completely understand the absolute anguish and exhilaration that accompany grand literary output, there is less chance, less motivation to grow, evolve and even change, should it benefit.
If you had the opportunity to befriend any author—past or present, well-known or little-read—who would it be? I don’t mean someone who merely interests you or whose work you particularly admire, but someone who you feel could really be both adversary and advisor, who would help you grow as a writer. This takes some thinking, but I’m curious!