Okei, skal gi meg med Lessing snart. Men bare en ting til. Jeg fant også den talen hun holdt da hun fikk Nobelprisen i Litteratur i 2007. Mange av dere kjenner den sikkert, men ikke jeg. Den heter On not winning the Nobel Prize. Hun snakker om mye forskjellig, ikke alt like interessant, men så kommer hun til noen fine partier som jeg gjerne vil dele med dere. Dette er ganske langt ut i talen:
«Here I am talking about books never written, writers that could not make it because the publishers are not there. Voices unheard. It is not possible to estimate this great waste of talent, of potential. But even before that stage of a book’s creation which demands a publisher, an advance, encouragement, there is something else lacking.
Writers are often asked, How do you write? With a wordprocessor? an electric typewriter? a quill? longhand? But the essential question is, «Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write?» Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas – inspiration.
If a writer cannot find this space, then poems and stories may be stillborn.
When writers talk to each other, what they discuss is always to do with this imaginative space, this other time. «Have you found it? Are you holding it fast?»
Let us now jump to an apparently very different scene. We are in London, one of the big cities. There is a new writer. We cynically enquire, Is she good-looking? If this is a man, charismatic? Handsome? We joke but it is not a joke.
This new find is acclaimed, possibly given a lot of money. The buzzing of paparazzi begins in their poor ears. They are feted, lauded, whisked about the world. Us old ones, who have seen it all, are sorry for this neophyte, who has no idea of what is really happening.
He, she, is flattered, pleased.
But ask in a year’s time what he or she is thinking – I’ve heard them: «This is the worst thing that could have happened to me,» they say.
Some much publicised new writers haven’t written again, or haven’t written what they wanted to, meant to.
And we, the old ones, want to whisper into those innocent ears. «Have you still got your space? Your soul, your own and necessary place where your own voices may speak to you, you alone, where you may dream. Oh, hold onto it, don’t let it go.»
Fint, ikke sant?
Jeg tillater meg selv også å gjengi slutten av nobeltalen hennes, fin for alle, spesielt oss som lever av og med fortellingen:
«We have a treasure-house of literature, going back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. It is all there, this wealth of literature, to be discovered again and again by whoever is lucky enough to come upon it. A treasure. Suppose it did not exist. How impoverished, how empty we would be.
We own a legacy of languages, poems, histories, and it is not one that will ever be exhausted. It is there, always.
We have a bequest of stories, tales from the old storytellers, some of whose names we know, but some not. The storytellers go back and back, to a clearing in the forest where a great fire burns, and the old shamans dance and sing, for our heritage of stories began in fire, magic, the spirit world. And that is where it is held, today.
Ask any modern storyteller and they will say there is always a moment when they are touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back and back to the beginning of our race, to the great winds that shaped us and our world.
The storyteller is deep inside every one of us. The story-maker is always with us. Let us suppose our world is ravaged by war, by the horrors that we all of us easily imagine. Let us suppose floods wash through our cities, the seas rise. But the storyteller will be there, for it is our imaginations which shape us, keep us, create us -for good and for ill. It is our stories that will recreate us, when we are torn, hurt, even destroyed. It is the storyteller, the dream-maker, the myth-maker, that is our phoenix, that represents us at our best, and at our most creative.»