“To write a good book you have to have certain qualities. Great art is connected with courage and truthfulness. There is a conception of truth, a lack of illusion, an ability to overcome selfish obsessions, which goes with good art, and the artist has got to have that particular sort of moral stamina. Good art, whatever its style, has qualities of hardness, firmness, realism, clarity, detachment, justice, truth. It is the work of a free, unfettered, uncorrupted imagination.”
This conversation between James Atlas and Iris Murdoch, part of a collaboration between 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center and The Paris Review, was recorded live at 92Y on February 22, 1990. We are able to share this recording thanks to a generous gift in memory of Christopher Lightfoot Walker, longtime friend of the Poetry Center and The Paris Review. Read Murdoch's full interview, which ran in The Paris Review as the Art of Fiction No. 117 in the summer of 1990.
Christopher Lightfoot Walker (1954—2012) served as poster director, prints director, and advisory editor of The Paris Review. He also volunteered at the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, making transcriptions, which were models of their kind, of audio recordings of live literary events. Chris was born in New York City, attended the Buckley School, then went west to Fountain Valley School and back east to Hampshire College. He was engaged in a number of entrepreneurial efforts (some in collaboration with his father, Angus Lightfoot Walker, longtime chairman of the City Investing Company) when, at the age of thirty-one, he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. He wore his adversity lightly, retaining, in addition to his considerable wits, his sense of humor and sense of fun. Against the odds he remained a person on whom no delightful thing was ever lost. Chris was always grateful for the refuge he was able to find in the work provided by the Y.