Janet Malcolm on Quotations in The Paris Review

· Joanthan Poritsky

INTERVIEWER > > I notice in your answers to my questions a kind of collage element. You will often paste in long quotations, and that is also true of your nonfiction and criticism. Can you explain your attraction to this technique? > MALCOLM > Well, the most obvious attraction of quotation is that it gives you a little vacation from writing—the other person is doing the work. All you have to do is type. But there is a reason beyond sloth for my liking of quotation at length. It permits you to show the thing itself rather than the pale, and never quite right, simulacrum that paraphrase is. > >

from The Paris Review No. 196

This interview by Katie Roiphe (available only in print) is full of interesting bits, but I especially like this flourish on the use of quotation. I like to share quotes here on the candler blog in part because it stands up to criticism better than paraphrase, but also because, on a certain level, I am lazy.

Why should I repeat what has been said better elsewhere? The idea is to continue and hopefully enhance the conversation.