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Michael Ondaatje discusses literature as art at Alex Fountain Memorial Lecture

Ondaatje pointed out that artists are not solely influenced by their own genre, but rather by a cultural medley of many arts.

Michael Ondaatje explored the affect of literature on society and other forms of art during the Alex Fountain Memorial Lecture on Nov. 14.
“I’m impossibly interested in how arts can influence one another,” he said. “As writers we are influenced by the genres and arts around us.”
Ondaatje, a Booker Prize-winning author, sees literature as an interconnected art, not a secluded medium.
“I’ve spent most of my life as a writer,” he said. “There’s a larger landscape than literature.
“We learn from everywhere.”
Ondaatje pointed out that artists are not solely influenced by their own genre, but rather by a cultural medley of many arts.
“Growing up in Sri Lanka, oral stories were my literature,” said Ondaatje. “I imagine that Ray Charles’ piano governed my prose more than (William) Wordsworth.
“The journey a painter takes with a brush is the same as a writer or any artist,” he said.
The interconnection of art allows it speak to people around the world, representing and preserving culture.
“There are artists we never meet who are essential to us.
“Most of our lives are unmapped and unhistorical,” said Ondaatje. “Art saves us from being unhistorical. Art can preserve the memory of someone or a moment.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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