Ishall only speak for five minutes, since I am not sufficiently clever or educated to do so for longer. This is not just modesty though it may seem like that. I should add perhaps that several times during this conference it has occurred to me that if a time-limit had been imposed on certain of the speeches, we should have had greater results.

I am not a critic, so I can’t speak about other people’s books. I can only tell you, briefly, what it is that makes me write.

I have not had any of the terrible personal experiences which other writers have described to us, but I have observed the world—I started to write late—and I have reached certain conclusions. I have always been struck by the things which men do to other men. I know of deeds which took place during the war, about which I still cannot think without feeling physically ill.

I am becoming ever more convinced that humanity—the people we are, those we meet—is suffering from a terrible disease. I want to examine this disease, because only by knowing it, is there any hope of being able to control it. And when I look around me, to find examples of this sickness, I seek it in the place where it is most easily accessible to me, I mean in myself.

In my opinion, therefore, the novelist does not limit himself to reporting facts, but diagnoses them, and his vocation has the same value as that of the doctor.