Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why would a writer set their story in the past?

Kathleen shows her quality as a writer even in her letters to a teenage girl. The following is an extract from a letter to my daughter in which she discusses Miller's reasons for setting his play about the McCarthy Witch Hunts in the past.  (Click on images below for larger versions).

In a much more recent letter to me she says much the same thing about the relevance of the political and religious turmoil of the closing years of Charles II's reign to today. As she saw more parallels between then and now, so she became more anxious that Moon in Leo should be published....

....during these last weeks, the story has suddenly become incredibly topical- …for the background  we have:
  • a King called Charles, with a complicated marital and family life
  • a society of the rich and famous who produce a new scandal with every edition of the newspapers
  • a government that has been in office for 18 years and is not only stale but starting to smell
  • an opposition that is playing the cards of integrity, decency and social conscience but has some background material that would make the usual whoring and grafting sound like the biography of Florence Nightingale
  • an established religion that for the time has run out of steam, and numbers of cults that are boiling with enthusiasm- some for good, some for evil, both inside and outside Christianity
  • and a large number of “alternative” Englands that are barely suspected to exist by “official” England- some just want to be allowed to live, some would like to smash everything in their way-
It’s 1678, but change the clothes and it could be today. So, now- if ever- it might find a reckless publisher. 

More extracts from Kathleen's letters to come!

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