James Wood: why fiction matters

From Saturday Morning, 11:05 am on 26 September 2015
James Wood

Photo: Miriam Berkley

James Wood has been called the best literary critic of his generation and the most influential. He’s also Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard University.

While he can certainly ruffle feathers, Wood takes fiction with an almost religious seriousness and can help launch careers. His recent book The Nearest Thing to Life is based on his lectures and borrows its title from a George Eliot quote – "Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot".

James Wood tells Kim HIll ahout the freedom to think that literature provided during his religious upbringing and the pleasure he takes in the craft.