How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?

Posted December 8, 2011

by Lensyl Urbano

A “symbol” grows in its own way, out of the facts

— Saul Bellow (1963). (via Butler, 2011 in The Paris Review).

Bruce McAllister wrote 150 authors asking if they intentionally put symbolism in their writing. The year was 1963 and McAllister was 16 at the time. Sarah Butler has posted some of the 75 responses McAllister received.

The responses are quite facinating and quite diverse. One common theme, though, was well expressed in the answers to the question, “Do you feel you consciously plan and place symbolism in your writing?”

  • Ralph Ellison:
    • “Symbolism arises out of action and functions best in fiction when it does so. Once a writer is conscious of the implicit symbolisms which arise in the course of a narrative, he may take advantage of them and manipulate them consciously as a further resource of his art. Symbols which are imposed upon fiction from the outside tend to leave the reader dissatisfied by making him aware that something extraneous has been added.”

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2011. How do Writers get Symbolism into their Writing?, Retrieved February 23rd, 2018, from Montessori Muddle: .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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