Anthony LEE (New York)

Going the Distance: Fiction Writing as Performance

In Going the Distance: Fiction Writing as Performance, novelist and professor Anthony Lee discussed the mysterious and meaningful exchange in American literature in particular and how the roots of that literature’s best known works can be found in great part in the anonymously authored, two-thousand-year-old Indian poem The Bhagavad-Gita. This work of spiritual awakening tells the story of a young warrior prince being educated on the battlefield by a god who explains how in looking into the self, if we can actually find our true self, we will see all selves at once, and all things, but that such a complete revelation of truth is in fact too much for any mortal mind to witness. The prince, in the end, will have to take the god’s word for it; the god’s description of that totality — his words — will have to suffice. In Going the Distance, Anthony Lee investigates how this totality is now also forever encountered in the words describing Melville’s white whale, Dickinson’s slanted truth, and Hawthorne’s letter A, for example, and in the words of all writers since who take up the challenge to glimpse that totality anew and to share it, as best they possibly can.

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Anthony Lee is the author of the novels Martin Quinn and There in the Darkness; he holds a Ph.D. from The State University of New York at Binghamton. Lee teaches literature and creative writing at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

Top Right: Image courtesy of Carol Haggerty.
Bottom Left: Image courtesy of the artist.