Then, even though you have been writing fewer novels in recent years, you don’t think less highly of the art of fiction than you used to?
Oh, no, no, no. I think fiction, and biography and history, are the forms. I think one can say much more about general abstract ideas in terms of concrete characters and situations, whether fictional or real, than one can in abstract terms. Several of the books I like best of what I’ve written are historical and biographical things: Grey Eminence, and The Devils of Loudun, and the biography of Maine de Biran, the “Variations on a Philosopher.” These are all discussions of what are to me important general ideas in terms of specific lives and incidents. And I must say I think that probably all philosophy ought to be written in this form; it would be much more profound and much more edifying. It’s awfully easy to write abstractly, without attaching much meaning to the big words. But the moment you have to express ideas in the light of a particular context, in a particular set of circumstances, although it’s a limitation in some ways, it’s also an invitation to go much further and much deeper. I think that fiction and, as I say, history and biography are immensely important, not only for their own sake, because they provide a picture of life now and of life in the past, but also as vehicles for the expression of general philosophic ideas, religious ideas, social ideas. My goodness, Dostoyevsky is six times as profound as Kierkegaard, because he writes fiction. In Kierkegaard you have this Abstract Man going on and on—like Coleridge—why, it’s nothingcompared with the really profound Fictional Man, who has always to keep these tremendous ideas alive in a concrete form. In fiction you have the reconciliation of the absolute and the relative, so to speak, the expression of the general in the particular. And this, it seems to me, is the exciting thing—both in life and in art.