Letters to the Editor
Aging and the Art of Writing
Editor's Note: Perspectives on History welcomes letters to the editor on issues discussed in its pages or which are relevant to the profession. Letters should ideally be brief and should be sent to Letters to the Editor (or mailed to Letters to the Editor, Perspectives on History, AHA, 400 A Street SE, Washington, DC 20003-3889) along with full contact information. Letters selected for publication may be edited for style, length, and content. Publication of letters does not signify endorsement by the AHA of the views expressed by the authors, who alone are responsible for ensuring accuracy of the letters' contents. Institutional affiliations are provided only for identification purposes.
To the Editor:
Readers of Dipesh Chakrabarty’s thoughtful discussion, “Crafting Histories: For Whom Does One Write” (Perspectives on History, March 2010) might consider Edmund White’s recent recollection (The Gay & Lesbian Review, Nov.-Dec. 2009, p. 13) of Michel Foucault’s own assessment of his early writings on the prison, the clinic, and the asylum. Foucault asked: “Have you ever wondered why my writing’s gotten simpler as I lived on?” To which White responded: “I guess so. Yeah, why?” To which Foucault answered: “It’s because I’ve learned how to write. When I started writing, I didn’t know how to write. And so all the earlier books, like The Birth of the Clinic and even Madness and Civilization, are really hard to read because I didn’t know how to organize my material and express it clearly.”
On this exchange, White comments further: “But the History of Sexuality and the other works are totally lucid. And the weird, sick thing is that in France he was criticized for those books being too clear!”
Tags: Letters to the Editor Publishing Your Work (OLD)
Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting.