From the fascinating article “John Updike At Work” in this past Monday’s NY Times, the late great author writing to his parents at age 19 (ht CWZ):

“We do not need men like Proust or Joyce; men like this are a luxury, an added fillip that an abundant culture can produce only after the more basic literary need has been filled. This age needs rather men like Shakespeare, or Milton, or Pope; men who are filled with the strength of their cultures and do not transcend the limits of their age, but, working within the times, bring what is peculiar to the moment of glory. We need great artists who are willing to accept restrictions, and who love their environments with such vitality that they can produce an epic out of the Protestant ethic.”

Amen! (But it’d be nice to have both).