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New Left Review I/29, January-February 1965

Ilya Ehrenburg

Condition of the Novel (USSR)

I have the impression that the subject of our meeting has been wrongly defined as ‘the crisis in the novel’. Every writer is convinced that he writes well and that he belongs either to the innovators or to the traditionalists. He is sure that the crisis in the novel is no concern of his and he passes the responsibility on to others. It must be said, however, that crisis is inherent in the nature of the creative act: without it art would perish. Every writer who sets out to write a book is convinced that he can say what no-one else has said before and that he can say it in a completely new way. Every writer, painter and composer undergoes a crisis and this is really in the nature of a pregnancy followed by a birth process; each can sometimes be most painful.

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Ilya Ehrenburg, ‘Condition of the Novel (USSR)’, NLR I/29: £3

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