Thursday, 2 January 2014

Who was Warrender Chase?

"God knows where I got Warrender Chase from; he was based on no one that I knew.

I know only that the night I started writing Warrender Chase I had been alone at a table in a restaurant near Kensington High Street Underground eating my supper.  I rarely ate out alone, but I must have found myself in funds that day.  I was going about my proper business, eating my supper while listening-in to the conversation at the next table.  One of them said, 'There we were all gathered in the living-room, waiting for him.'

It was all I needed.  That was the start of Warrender Chase, the first chapter.  All the rest sprang from that phrase.

But I invented for my Warrender a war record, a distinguished one, in Burma, and managed to make it really credible even although I filled in the war bit with a very few strokes, knowing, in fact, so little about the war in Burma.  It astonished me later to find how the readers found Warrender's war record so convincing and full when I had said so little -- one real war veteran of Burma wrote to say how realistic he found it -- but since then I've come to learn for myself how little one needs, in the art of writing, to convey the lot, and how a lot of words, on the other hand, can convey so little…..

All these years since, the critics have been asking whether Warrender was in love with his nephew.  How do I know?  Warrender Chase never existed, he is only some hundreds of words, some punctuation, sentences, paragraphs, marks on the page.  If I had conceived Warrender Chase's motives as a psychological study I would have said so.  But I didn't go in for motives, I never have."

Loitering with Intent   Muriel Spark

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