The following is an abbreviation of the speech, but you can find it's entirety here.
Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches - nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair.
Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.
The skalds, the bards, the writers are not separate and exclusive. From the beginning, their functions, their duties, their responsibilities have been decreed by our species.
Humanity has been passing through a gray and desolate time of confusion. My great predecessor, William Faulkner, speaking here, referred to it as a tragedy of universal fear so long sustained that there were no longer problems of the spirit, so that only the human heart in conflict with itself seemed worth writing about.
Faulkner, more than most men, was aware of human strength as well as of human weakness. He knew that the understanding and the resolution of fear are a large part of the writer's reason for being . . .
Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit - for gallantry in defeat - for courage, compassion and love.
In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally-flags of hope and of emulation.
I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature . . .
With humanity's long proud history of standing firm against natural enemies, sometimes in the face of almost certain defeat and extinction, we would be cowardly and stupid to leave the field on the eve of our greatest potential victory . . .
The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man. The test of his perfectibility is at hand.
Having taken Godlike power, we must seek in ourselves for the responsibility and the wisdom we once prayed some deity might have.
Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope.
So that today, St. John the apostle may well be paraphrased ...
In the end is the Word, and the Word is Man - and the Word is with Men.
- John Steinbeck
Art is an attempt to answer the question, "What is it all about," and Steinbeck's answer is, "Man himself has become our greatest hazard and our only hope." His works are a fleshing out.
IF YOU'VE SUBSCRIBED IN THE PAST MONTH OR SO
PLEASE (scroll to bottom) AND DO SO AGAIN!
There was an (ahem) operations error and it didn't go through (sorry about that).
For more on . . .