Welcome to my month-long journey through the WD archives, in which I’m posting (almost) daily offerings from the history of our magazine. There’s no rhyme or reason to my choices.
As one loyal reader pointed out, there’s been a lack of female voices so far. And sadly, my wanderings have led me to conclude there was a lack of attention given to women writers up until the ‘70s in the magazine—a sign of the times, I suppose.
Ironically, I was able to find a wonderful essay by Eudora Welty, published in the February 1970 issue of Writer’s Digest, entitled “Must the Novelist Crusade?” It’s about the writer’s social responsibility, especially in regards to writing about racism and other forms of prejudice.
Here’s a short but entirely lovely excerpt to ponder:
And so finally I think we need to write with love. Not in self-defense, not in hate, not in the mood of instruction, not in rebuttal, in any kind of militance, or in apology, but with love. Not in exorcisement, either, for this is to make the reader bear a thing for you.
Neither do I speak of writing forgivingly; out of love you can write with straight fury. It is the source of the understanding that I speak of; it’s this that determines its nature and its reach.
What do you think? Should writers be social crusaders?