“Myths began as an attempt to explain core elements of the world, by men and women beset and beleagured by mortality and fragility. They aspired to be – as Sallust or Stephen or whomever, said – eternal truths couched as stories. But what of today? How do we use the word?”
“Fantasy fiction occupies an uneasy niche these days. Fantasy has the capacity to be as important and as thought-provoking as any other form of literature we have. The patterns of myth, folklore, archetype and fairy tale embedded in such works are time-honoured and immensely powerful, and fantasy can tap more directly into these ancient wells than just about anything else: they are the core elements of the genre. But there’s another strength of the form that’s less discussed – and is at the heart of what intrigues me of late…”
GGK wrote a new afterword for the publication of a tenth anniversary edition of Tigana, in which he discusses the ideas that led him to write the book: “Tigana is in good part a novel about memory: the necessity of it, in cultural terms, and the dangers that come when it is too intense. Scelto’s decision at the end of the novel is a reflection of that, and so is the George Seferis passage that served as one of my epigraphs. So, accepting that this is precarious terrain – an author’s memories of a book about remembering – what does that imply, more than a decade after the writing?”
“At the end of every novel I write, a journey begins with no known destination. I never know what my next book will be. In order to find out, for each of my past four novels, I read history. For Sailing to Sarantium the process was slightly less random…”
On the 4th of November 2000, GGK gave a speech at a one day conference in Toronto. The subject of the conference, held in Toronto University’s Convocation Hall, was ‘Reflections on an Ethical Society.’ GGK’s thought provoking speech is about personal privacy and the media, and what happens to the boundaries of privacy in a society that seems to actively pursue and glorify the limelight. Note: An updated version of this essay can be found in the Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts: “The Fiction of Privacy: Fantasy and the Past.” JFA 20.2 (2009): 240-47
Allow me first to express my pleasure at having been invited to join you here for what I have taken to be a celebration of literature and the teaching of literature. If, for some reason I am wrong in this, I intend to carry on as if I am right, and bring you along with me, either through a desperate attempt at eloquence, or with threats of reprisals, if necessary…
“On the occasion of an anniversary edition, there are many things that might be said. At the same time, I have to confess to a desire (a strong one) to say nothing at all, to let the work continue to speak for itself. Real as this feeling is, I’m aware that the idea of a book standing alone, unmediated, becomes an illusion long before its 20th anniversary edition…”
Not exactly an essay, but this seemed the most suitable place to put this, GGK’s address at the World Fantasy Awards, which was both a moving tribute to the late Robert Jordan and a hilariously funny first: The first-ever World Fantasy Fairy Tale…
An article GGK wrote that appeared in The Globe & Mail, May 2008. “Sometimes evil comes hand in hand with virtue, animated by good intent. It is most worrisome then because we focus on the intentions, the valid cause, and miss the danger. Happens all the time. I heard a story recently and followed it up. Here’s the essence…”
An article written by GGK that appeared in the Globe & Mail, January 2009. “It was recently reported that over fifty million Russians had decided the greatest Russian ever…”
This article first appeared in the Globe & Mail March 6, 2009. “A few recent online incidents regarding authors and readers on the Web are just too revealing to pass up a chance to consider them…”
This article originally appeared in the October 16, 2009 edition of the Globe & Mail. “In the book world, a withering crossfire always seems to commence around now – because it is awards season, and in an increasingly challenging fiction market, awards can make a difference…”
As Under Heaven neared release, GGK wrote a letter which was included in ARC’s (advance reading copies) of the novel, discussing the book and his writing method.
GGK discusses the theme and nature of Exile, and its varied but recurring role across his novels.
GGK examines the subject of rereading, ranging from a look at how returning to a book can change our views of it, how some works seem to belong to a specific period or age, and the way literature can speak to us differently at different points in our life. “There’s an anxiety I feel when picking up a book I loved when young, preparing to read it again…”