Back again with more Walter Duranty quotes from his book “I Write as I Please.” I suppose it might be considered arrogant for a writer to have that as his title but as a journalist for the New York Times, he always had editors that made him write a certain way. (Perhaps he had Stalin’s minions also edit what he wrote, but that’s another issue) He probably had a very tight internal self editor because I believe he did write well. However, a hero of mine, Malcolm Muggeridge, another British journalist simply said that Duranty was a “Liar.” What parts did Duranty write as lies, that is for history to judge. He did admit to embellishing a story to make it more readable.
So, I didn’t think I’d actually ever write this but I am glad Duranty wrote this book published in 1935 because he documents what historian deniers of the Terror Famine would rather have people NOT know about what happened in Kazakhstan and Ukraine and other former Soviet countries. (I’ll include quotes about that tomorrow)
p. 207 “In other words, I had become affected by my environment and was beginning to lose the perspective and critical detachment which every foreign correspondent must retain at all costs. A reporter who stays too long in Russia at one time is liable either to lose sight of the differences and to accept as natural and normal events as circumstances which are unnatural and abnormal to his readers, or else to find that the difference gets on his nerves to such a degree that he swings over to the other extreme and reports everything from a sour and jaundiced angle.”
Here’s what spurred this book on and who he dedicated this book to, his journalist friend William Ryall Bolitho. Bolitho gave him some sage advice:
p. 258 “Capitalize your knowledge and experience and capacity for putting words on paper in a way that will interest your readers”
YOUR book, the book that comes from YOU out of YOUR consciousness and is not something that you are writing as you think you ought to write or as someone else wants you to write. The only books that matter must be written with conviction and must be true to the people who write them.
The reason this stuff gets across is that its true to the people who write it – that’s the basic principle. Second, a book should be actually true and well written. A book written with conviction but true and without hokum – the result is bound to be right.
The better you write it and the more interesting the subject, the more right is the result.
Don’t write what they want you to write – write what YOU want to write, as YOU want to write it.”
Today I started reading a book by John Noble titled “I Was a Slave in Russia.” I keep gravitating to these kinds of books for some reason.
(to be continued)