…I just remembered this piece from Sunday’s NYT Book Review, on how enforced confinement—often involuntary—leads to literary productivity:
But history is filled with writers who, like the marquis [de Sade], could function only in extreme — and involuntary — isolation.
“A prison is indeed one of the best workshops,” Colette declared. She wasn’t speaking metaphorically. In the early 1900s, by her own account, her caddish first husband had stashed her in a tiny room for four hours a day, refusing to let her out until she had finished a requisite number of pages — a drastic measure, but one that resulted in a novel a year for six years.
From Marco Polo to the Marquis de Sade to Jonathan Frantzen, apparently we’re not alone. It’s a grim commentary on grad school, though probably more disingenuous to those actually in prison. Lord knows there are forms of confinement that are good for no one.