E. B. White, The Art of the Essay No. 1

Interviewed by George Plimpton and Frank H. Crowther for the Paris Review, Fall 1969, No. 48.

“I am restless and would rather sail a boat than crack a book.”

– “Feuds did not threaten The New Yorker. The only feud I recall was the running battle between the editorial department and the advertising department. This was largely a one-sided affair, with the editorial department lobbing an occasional grenade into the enemy’s lines just on general principles, to help them remember to stay out of sight. Ross was determined not to allow his magazine to be swayed, in the slightest degree, by the boys in advertising. As far as I know, he succeeded.”

– “I can’t stand the word “humorist” anyway.”

– INTERVIEWER: You did write the famous caption for the Carl Rose drawing of a mother saying to her youngster: “It’s broccoli, dear”—with his reply: “I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”

– “The journals are callow, sententious, moralistic, and full of rubbish … I have already dipped into them on a couple of occasions, to help out on a couple of pieces … In most respects they are disappointing. Where I would like to discover facts, I find fancy. Where I would like to learn what I did, I learn only what I was thinking. They are loaded with opinion, moral thoughts, quick evaluations, youthful hopes and cares and sorrows. Occasionally, they manage to report something in exquisite honesty and accuracy.”

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