This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Morris West talks about his career and book "The Devil's Advocate."
Mary Ellen Chase tells stories about being a teacher and traveling.
Noel Coward talks about his first novel, "Pomp and Circumstance," as well as his career. Suggests an American Academy in Rome for writers, the importance of art to civilzation.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71185
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
The compass of Maurice West's life seems now to be pointing to the magnetic north steadily and true but through much of his early life it has been a fluctuating one he was born in Melbourne Australia the great southern continent and just got all the points of the compass mention that once he has written paperback adventure stories under the name of Michael East he was educated by the Christian Brothers and later served as a teacher in the school giving instruction in modern languages history and physics he left this quiet world for they decided Lee unquiet one of publicity and radio served on the Intelligence Corps during the war and after the wall built his own business and a flourishing one recording company that produced and syndicated radio dramas his own and others the tensions of business life led to a nervous breakdown in one hundred fifty two we sold his company and set out on an adventure of self discovery as a writer as a writer Mr West has written five books missed East three in Naples he met the priest Don Marco Belinelli and deeply moved by Don Michael's work with the homeless children of that city wrote descriptively up in the children of the shadows in nineteen fifty eight The London Daily Mail sent him to room to write about the Vatican an assignment that was to provide him with useful information the material for his next novel his literary agent it said there must be a novel in the phrase devil's advocate that was indeed a novel that is now sold over three million copies been translated into eleven languages and has now been adapted for the stage by Dora Sherry in a play opening in the city in March ninth of the novel John HUTCHENS wrote it is a humane and glowing story whose core is revealed slowly until at last you are left with that special sense of completion and phonology that only an artist can provide when he has a purpose that brings out the best in him I introduce that artist to allow us to Mars. Thank you Ben. Job. Ladies and gentlemen I came here today at a great price. I hope that you will find the price worth it I had to get a ticket to London to get from Los Angeles to New York. I also had seven hours waiting on the tarmac at Pittsburgh. But we are here one of the problems about gatherings like this and speakers like myself is that we have so little time to get to know each other and for me it would be a rewarding experience in the world of you better for you it may not be quite such a rewarding experience to know me better I have lived a rather life which I have enjoyed greatly and the time suffered but I have come to this stage of it with one obsession and that is the obsession with the loneliness we live all of us in a society which is becoming more and more industrialized more and more about the city of Manhattan is one of the great and more terrifying express themselves on this earth and civilization people who buys in nature. The very need of their being were meant to live in small. Free spreading communities being confined within walls of concrete and glass separate from their fellows separate and hostile curiously hostile ladies and gentlemen because when we live so close to each other in such a narrow confinement. We become afraid of each other we become afraid of the smallest intrusion on our privacy on our fears and even on our. We live if we have money and security in physical comfort we are given an impersonal service to the extent to which we can pay for it we become victims in a curious fashion of the psychosis of possession that small acreage which we own whether it be covered by piled carpet or by polished wood becomes infinitely precious to those we begin to need it as though it were food and drink and we begin to forget that the fundamental need divine nature of all our nature separately and individually is for love now love is not a sentimental word latest though it has become so in the calmness of our time love is the harshest words in the language Love is the most terrifying mystery of human nature because love means laying ourselves on the altar of living and if necessary sacrificing ourselves to it this is our need this is our basic and core relatively with with that comes another the need for community the need of an ambience in which love can be spent and love can be received within the family within a trial within some kind of order society in our urbanized and industrialized lives we fly from those we put ourselves into a state of fuel because we are afraid of the demand which will be made upon us by a community which is too great for our nature. And out of this comes the Tara comes the uncertainty comes the loneliness of living in a crowd and all of us in one fashion or another who live in big cities secondments become victims of the old to become victims of it because the pressures of living on the on the young make the old dispensable make the old unnecessary make the old age but the old Therefore you are the repository of the richness of living the repository of all of our experience the repository of what is left of humanity and they should be much after our life begin to be relegated to the care of profession to the care of doctors to the care of psychiatric counsellors to the care of institutions instead of to the chaos of people whose progenitors they are the Mary become in a curious sense a burden to one another because their demands are made in a narrow feel because they become perhaps afraid of children because they have no room to spread themselves and no leisure to love so they try to limit the object of their loving and love is a plant which by its nature is meant to grow freely inhibited to endure twisted your twisted into strange growth so destructive the young will become of it because the young have so many demands to mind and the field in which they make them is so narrow the resources upon which they make them are so limited but we are forced to live in such communities this is the nature of the civilization in which we live. And we must perforce adapt ourselves to it. One of the means by which we adapt ourselves to it is by keeping open by every possible means you know power the channels of human communication through books through music through every form of art and through every form of. Social community we ourselves must reach out to other people we must find a common and comprehensible language so that what we communicate to one another is the truth of human nature and not its Tara one of the reasons ladies and gentleman why more and more people in this country are going to psychiatrists is that fewer and fewer people have learned to read to speak or to think and this applies even to educate in a society where possession and success have been for a long time the goal the National go there comes a period when all our thinking all our words all our expression is concrete it refers to things that which we can touch hold eat drink possess our reach is limited and the reach of our thought is also inhibited we ask too few questions about who we are what is our nature where do we come from where are we going we become unaccustomed to the concept to that which dignifies main his capacity for thinking about he is unable willy nilly how it. We are brought at various stages of our life face to face with the eternal mystery of man with birth passion death and the consequences of the act of love and what has happened is that people who have accustom themselves to the concrete word the concrete thought that which they can possess touch feel when they find themselves face to face with mysteries they have no words to define They have no human relationships left with which to arm themselves and they find themselves suddenly naked in darkness and in confusion they find themselves to kulit about those things about which human nature men and women have been articulate for all the centuries but we have lost the words in a kind of general amnesia they find themselves reaching out hands in need of friendship and support and finding nothing because they have withdrawn themselves along the tribal supports of broken down the community of family and friendship has been destroyed and for many it has been irreparably so therefore they turn themselves to subtract to the professional healing of the soul the family doctor who once shared part of this healing function like the village pastor has now become special lives he has become a man who can cure this that or the other of the body but has perforce to forget that body and spirit are linked indissoluble in a human unity and so we turn to the so-called who is often ladies and gents all too ill equipped because he too in many cases is a product of the society whose ills he tries to cure because he himself is all too often. Ignorant of the complex relationship of man with his fellows because he too often by the very nature of his education is convinced that man is a single self dependant into two he is not a man is a contingent fee a dependent need he relies on other men and other women to conceive in the act of love to bring in decently into the world and get even decently out of these things he cannot do for them and his whole dignity ladies your dignity and mine our future our hope for ourselves and for our children rests upon the recognition of our dependence on the dignity of our dependence not only as individuals upon our national family but as nations upon the family of nations and the only way we can preserve our dignity the only way we can guarantee any mild hope of continuity is by affirming our dependence by being humble enough to stretch out her hand and ask for help ask for affirmation of our human relationship and someone must make the first step people can sleep in the same bed live in the same house walk the same streets for twenty years and never achieve one moment of communion because the waits for the other in personal life in family life and in the affairs of the nation recognition of our dependence and the willingness to make the first step towards communicating that dependence to those who depend on us is the first step towards the affirmation of our dignity as men and of our hope for the children will be getting a lot. Since a book called The lovely ambition has been on the bestseller list for a long time now I suppose no one needs to be reminded here that it's a novel in the form of a memoir about the family of a Methodist preacher in its homeland England and its new homeland America specifically the state of Maine its author Mary Ellen Chase was not born in England and is not the daughter of a Methodist preacher yet one of the most experienced book reviewers in the United States US got it at MIT's that while he was reading the love the ambition the illusion that what he was reading was an actual memoir was so persuasive but he had to go to the shelf and consult again the book called A goodly heritage in which Mr Chase had told the story of her own earlier years what's more he found it necessary to keep a goodly heritage near at hand throughout his reading of the later books Miss Chase is a most convincing Poff she was born in Blue Hill Maine educated at bluegill Academy on the University of Maine sold her first story while she was in college it was a football story and was bought by the American boys magazine she became a teacher and in that career had more to do with American girls she taught English for nearly thirty years at Smith College and all that she received in nineteen fifty six the Constance Lindsay Skinner Award presented by the Women's National Book Association her hobbies have included cooking needlepoint gardening birdwatching and anagrams in English and Latin. Time magazine discovered how Only Knows time that she once astonished the Dr by rattling off the dates of all the Roman emperors while she was coming out of. G.S. written supposedly about a specific region the Fama end of seacoast country of May but her interests are universal the writing includes stories for the young personal essays literary criticism by those studies biographies histories I'm not as a reader and as another native of Maine I take double pleasure in presenting American interests. And to kill yeah yeah. You spend your life in the kind of trap. Where not. From. The. Mist is right about. But perhaps. I was right when I was in college at seventeen and one of the women's magazines offered a contest the twenty five dollars. Would seem to fortune then I had five dollars a month. On the subject called I would not marry my husband again was he. And it seventy. Was. When I came down. The Mr Mr Card I had. The right. But. I had a day like most men look a little scared. When men teach. Most people do. Especially on college professors like me I look far more skeptical than they do with far more ease. Because I live in the colony of. To between. This and college professors. And we are some simply. Jews. I take. Pride in the president. Has to. Do. The best. Live. And life. To. Read. And of course you read the book and. From quite different reasons and. But I know exactly how I look upon. And talk about for a few. Greater than. About. A good many years. A Well of course it is. Unless of course it's. Like one of Scott's romances which is. Or an adventure story like Treasure Island County. Or a law. Just like the Roger. But. I don't think it is the story. There. Is only a means to an end the novel. And. It is of course. Another. Valuation of life just that and. It's. The face of the. Novelist during the. At least medical. Care. And because she had like a little article one of her books. The archbishop. Could be. She was. And she was going. To study French. But more especially she said. That's what my book is going to be she said. To me. One day we talked about love and she said I can't write. And. I can't do it because I. Saw a reflection. Of that. The writer whenever I try to fail. What I do is to make a pit or design. Or and. See. If. I just. What I think it's a great book My aunt. And I hope that you. And. There. In that magnificent book is. Just read. The. Uncultivated West Praed it comes at the very. First morning. Having come. And see the red grass in the wind and he says. Seems to be. The red grass comes again when. It's very crossed. And it never fails to blow up the region and. Look out and see the red. And they're tough. Again. As they tried to cultivate and at the very. Back. Because. One. And. During. The. Possibility. Of the nine. It. It's. Just beginning. To. And. If. You've never read and. Looking for the meaning. You would have. No question. But let's get to. The island of some Molo one of the British Possessions upon which the sun has not set lies in the southwestern Pacific it began to live around nineteen thirty five when Noel Coward invented it as t