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Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

The Complete Set

The popular idea is that the more one is rich in practical experiences of life, the more successful he is in literary pursuits: for, then he will be able to write better, tackle various, problems of life in a better way.

Why should a creative artist write only about problems?

A litterateur of Bengal, B, used to say that it is simple unthinkable that living in entire seclusion in Pondicherry or the Himalayas one can write anything in prose or poetry. His experience is sure to be limited.

What a stupidly rigid principle! Can B really write nothing except what he has seen or experienced? What an unimaginative man he must be! And how dull his stories must be and how limited.

I wonder whether Victor Hugo had to live in a convicts' prison before he invented Jean Valjean. Certainly one has to look at life, but there is no obligation to copy faithfully from life. The man of imagination carries a world in himself and a mere hint or suggestion from life is enough to start it going. It is recognised now that Balzac & Dickens created on the contrary their greatest characters which were not at all faithful to life around them. Balzac's descriptions of society are hopelessly wrong, he knew nothing about it, but his world is much more striking and real than the actual world around him which he misrepresented – even life has imitated the figures he made rather than the other way round. Besides who is living in entire seclusion in Pondicherry? There are living men and women around you and human nature is in full play here as well as in the biggest city – only one has to have an eye to see what is within them and an imagination that takes a few bricks and can make out of them a great edifice – one must be able to see that human nature is one everywhere and pick out of it the essential things or the interesting things that can be turned into great art.

In the evening when you come on the terrace – as I look at you, the horizon behind, divides distinctly into two colours: pale pink and pale blue. Is it simply due to my gazing fixedly at you, Mother?

In that case everybody who looks fixedly at the Mother on the roof would see a horizon of pale pink and pale blue. I doubt if it is the case.


1934 05 26 Exact Writting Letter Nirodbaran