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This week at The Paris Review, we’re thinking about masks, concealment, and hiding. Read on for Louise Erdrich’s Art of Fiction interview, Charles Baudelaire’s poem “The Mask,” Donald Keene’s essay on Yukio Mishima’s Confessions of a Mask, and Flavia Gandolfo’s photography portfolio “Masks.”
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Louise Erdrich, The Art of Fiction No. 208
Issue no. 195 (Winter 2010)
I suppose one develops a number of personas and hides them away, then they pop up during writing. The exertion of control comes later. I take great pleasure in writing when I get a real voice going and I’m able to follow the voice and the character. It’s like being in a trance state.
By Charles Baudelaire, translated by Richard Howard
Issue no. 82 (Winter 1981)
What blasphemy of art is this! Upon
a body made to offer every bliss
appear … two heads! A monster? No—
one is merely a mask, a grinning cheat
that smile, illumined with exquisite care.
Look there: contorted in her misery,
the actual head, the woman’s countenance
lost in the shadow of the lying mask …
Mishima in 1958
By Donald Keene
Issue no. 134 (Spring 1995)
We seem to have moved on then to a more general discussion of literature, though the notes are again unclear: “I gained liberation through literature, though I never sought it. Proust is spiritual, but I am physiological. Literature enabled me to free myself from many complexes and from tension. I became interested in all aspects of human life and I shed my adherence to self. In this I think I am unlike most Western writers. I have come to think that I am not dissimilar to other people, though when I wrote Confessions of a Mask I thought I was … ”
By Flavia Gandolfo
Issue no. 133 (Winter 1994)
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