Cynthia Ozick: “I wish I had not been sunk in an immense dream of immense achievement.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of fiction writer Cynthia Ozick, born in New York City in 1928. For years, she wrote full time, supported by her husband, but didn’t publish anything. She was working on a huge novel called Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love, which she called “MPPL” or “Mippel,” and which she never finished. . . .

I wish I had done what I see the current generation doing: I wish I had scurried around for reviews to do, for articles to write. I wish I had written short stories. I wish I had not been sunk in an immense dream of immense achievement. . . .

When she was 37 years old, she published her first novel, Trust (1966). Later, she said about Trust: “Nobody has ever read it. If someone will give me some real proof that he has made it from the first page to the last I will have a gold medal struck.”

But it started her literary career, and from there she turned to short stories. Her story collections include The Pagan Rabbi and Other Stories (1971), Envy; or, Yiddish in America (1989), and Collected Stories (2007). Foreign Bodies (2010) was a loose retelling of The Ambassadors by her literary hero, Henry James. Her most recent work was the essay collection Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays (2016).

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