And then I read this, in the introduction to Steinbeck’s The Long Valley, a letter from Steinbeck to a graduate student working on critical material of his work: “I haven’t wanted to be flippant. The curious hocus-pocus of criticism I can’t take seriously. It consists in squirreling up some odd phrases and then waiting for a book to come running by. And as to the question as to what I mean by—or what my philosophy is—I haven’t the least idea.” In an earlier interview with the same student, he says, “Look! This is too complicated. I just write stories.”
He was in the middle of writing The Grapes of Wrath, toiling with this unconscious torrent of ideas, and to have to bring those impulses to the surface by talking about them would have deadened the book for him, I think.
I do understand the impulse of the graduate student. I’m curious as well. I have similar questions. But stories must come first. Stories will last. Postmodernism will become a curiosity. I think. If I knew what it meant, I could be more certain.