Why do writers write?

I have often wondered what it is that makes me want to write.  Why am I drawn to this sometimes pleasurable, often torturous pursuit? From the earliest discoveries we can see that humans wanted to set down symbols to convey a message.  Words are after all just our modern-day equivalent of those symbols.  Perhaps our prehistoric ancestors wanted to report to their kinfolk that they had seen a wondrous animal to hunt and eat, or found an ideal spot to make camp. From those earliest days we know that writing was used to inform.  Since then, one of its important…

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Writers on the edge

by David E P Dennis When I was a lot younger than I am now and sitting in the French language class at Hastings Grammar School, the tutor, wearing his university gown and coloured mantle, produced some French literature and asked us to translate it. Cluelessly I staggered through it. I remarked aloud that it was quite difficult to understand and the tutor, or master as he was called, explained that it was not surprising as it had been written by a madman. Up to that point I had not realised that some people were ‘mad’. Now I am older I…

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A Bloomsbury lotus

A controversial view of the Bloomsbury intellectual saga By David E P Dennis Many people have heard the phrase ‘The Bloomsbury Group’. English society seems to have an echo of ‘clubability’ even now. We like the Pre-Raphaelites but we don’t like ‘The Right Club’ or the ‘Cambridge Apostles’ (some of them anyway) and certainly the word ‘Bullingdon’ raises hackles and ire. Who are these people who set themselves up above the rest? The accepted list of people who were members of the Group is plain to see. Here’s a list in alphabetical order: Clive Bell (1881 to 1964) Vanessa Bell (1879…

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I Spy a little-used word!

Spy novels often use terms like ‘secret service’, under cover, ‘agent’ and so on. They don’t often use: ‘cabbalistic’, ‘Delphic’ ‘oracular’ or ‘abstruse’. Nor when reflecting on any failure of cunning by spies do they use ‘maladroit’ or ‘ingenuous’. In fact to reflect this failure of effective spying we can turn to Lord Chesterfield who said: ‘Cunning is the dark sanctuary of incapacity.’ Spies need to be ‘artful’, ‘astute’, Machiavellian and trained in the art of ‘wiliness’. They need to use ‘narks’ and carefully ‘descry’. In the early days of organised spying, as opposed to being generally nosey, spies were…

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Spying can be fun

By David E P Dennis Indeed, espionage can be fun – but you can also get yourself killed. State secrets are secret for a reason! So how can you have fun whilst immersing yourself in a world of spies? Easy – use the luxury of armchair spying, mix yourself a martini shaken not stirred, sit back and read about their activities.  Not necessarily the James Bond fantasies but the cold and deeply scary reality of pretending to be someone you are not whilst sticking your nose into someone else’s business. If you read, then you can safely nose about in…

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