06 July 2009

Idiotic geniuses

Being a genius does not exempt one from being an idiot. Take the case of William Butler Yeats, undoubtedly a genius in the field of writing. It was Yeats who said the following idiotic statements:

“Nobody can write with music and style in a language not learned in childhood and ever since the language of his thought.”

"We should write out our thoughts in as nearly as possible the language we thought them in, as though in a letter to an intimate friend."

As Steven G. Kellman has demonstrated again and again in his books and anthologies, there are literally hundreds (perhaps thousands) of writers that were born into one language, think in one language, and write in another (or another or another). It is not just Rabindranath Tagore (Yeats was talking about him) that proves the falsity of the claim, but so many others in so many countries. Of course, one does not have to go the other extreme, represented by Salman Rushdie, who thinks that one cannot write in the language one was born into (Rushie, another literary genius, holds the idiotic opinion that Indians should write only in English).

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