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In One Writer’s Reality, Monroe K. Spears eloquently considers the kinds of reality writers have to confront. Spears presents not a single rigorous argument but varied approaches to the basic thesis that the writer is not essentially different from the reader, and that the writer’s relation to reality is crucially important. Spears adopts a broad treatment of reality, from the largest scale in “Cosmology” to the smallest and most personal scale in “A Happy Induction.”
“Writing as a Vocation” defines the economic reality of writing as “unimportant to the writer; what must in the end matter to him, as to the reader, are the deeper realities of place and community, human relations and emotions, and aesthetic form, and ultimately the transmutation of daily life into the ideal reality of form in art.” Examples of reality as seen by two very different poets, James Dickey and W. H. Auden, and by novelist Reynolds Price are considered.
Two essays relate the history of the University of the South and the Sewanee Review to the evolving culture of the South that Allen Tate and others, central to the Sewanee story, created. One speculative and wide-ranging essay on the expression of emotion in music and poetry compares Schubert and Keats. Considering himself as representative of the influences of particular times and places, and of intellectual and academic climates, Spears concludes by addressing the realities of his own career in literature.
Intended for the aspiring writer and the general reader, One Writer’s Reality is an intimate perusal of the working interests and practices of a formidable American critic.