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This collection of essays does not intend to teach its readers to write, nor does it attempt to convince them to take up the pen. Rather, in their respective essays, writers William Kennedy, Robert Hass, Richard Ford, Roger Rosenblatt, Geoffrey Wolff, Diane Johnson, Louise Glück, Philip Levine, and John Barth tell us why literature matters, why it is remarkable to actively take part in advancing one's culture by writing. This volume contributes not only to our understanding of writers and their works, but also to our understanding of the culture in which we live. The essays illustrate how each of our own stories develop, how they become intertwined, how culture itself is created and perpetuated simply by the act of writing such stories.
Originally part of the Hopwood Lecture series at the University of Michigan, these essays were presented in conjunction with the annual awarding of the Hopwood Prizes in creative writing. The internationally recognized awards are granted by the bequest of playwright Avery Hopwood (1884-1928), who sought to encourage student work in the fields of dramatic writing, fiction, poetry, and the essay.
The volume is edited and introduced by Nicholas Delbanco, Robert Frost Collegiate Professor of English Language and Literature and Chair of the Hopwood Awards Committee, University of Michigan. He is also a novelist and author of seventeen books.