Writers and Moral Obligation


At the New York Times Book Ends column this week, Zoë Heller and Francine Prose discuss whether or not William Faulkner’s famous quote, “The writer’s only responsibility is to his art,” holds up.

In other words, Heller asks, does producing great art excuse terrible human behavior? Her conclusion is that no, it doesn’t.

Prose seems to agree, and suggests, “Perhaps one solution is to separate our responsibility as artists (to art) from our human responsibility (to other human beings).”

Kelly Lynn Thomas reads, writes, and sometimes sews in Pittsburgh, PA. Her creative work has appeared in Sou’wester, Thin Air Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, metazen, and others, and she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University. She is hopelessly obsessed with Star Wars and can always be found with a large mug of tea. She also runs the very small Wild Age Press. Read more at kellylynnthomas.com. More from this author →