by Patrick Călinescu
How can I become a great stylist in English (for I have long been wanting to be become one), when I’m in the middle of bloody nowhere, and nowhere to be seen anywhere in the four corners of the English-speaking world?
How can I become my finest, yet dream-y, accomplishment with no access to anyone speaking English natively; and with no access whatsoever to the tons of good books in the English world; and with no access to the English world itself?
I want to become a great stylist in English while practically being completely isolated from everything English.
And I wonder… Am I so mad to want to achieve the seemingly impossible?
For tell me at least one person to have done it without being firmly set in the English world.
Would Joseph Conrad have done it if he hadn’t lived all his adult life surrounded by the best kind of Englishness his own time could offer him?
Would Vladimir Nabokov have done it if he hadn’t moved to America when he was entering the most creatively energetic period of his life?
Would Tom Stoppard have done it if he hadn’t moved to England when he was still a boy?
Would Salman Rushdie have done it if he hadn’t immersed himself in the best milieu of Englishness he could ever hope to be in?
So I wonder… I have none of that, but that doesn’t stop me from pushing on—from pressing on—from soldiering on on the front line of my big dream; that one day, just one day, I would become a great stylist in English; a writer with no country; but a writer of the land of the English language…