"But I will always remember with real joy the cry from the soul of a young man I met for a moment and by chance. Discovering that I had written 'Come Back to the Raft', he looked at me reproachfully through a long minute of silence, and then in an impassioned whisper asked: 'Why did you do it?' This, I suspect, is success.
"I think of myself as primarily a literary person, though one whose interest in works of art is dictated by a moral passion rather than a cooler technical concern; and I do not hesitate to admit that I write of politics reluctantly, in a world where to ignore them would mean to be less than human. I have no expert knowledge in political matters and am an indifferent researcher; but I have lived (deeply, though somewhat grudgingly, involved) through a crisis in liberalism which seems to me a major event in the development of the human spirit.
"This crisis I feel peculiarly qualified to describe, precisely because I am a literary man, immune to certain journalistic platitudes and accustomed to regard men and words with a sensibility trained by the newer critical methods. It is a 'close reading' of recent events that I should like to think I have achieved, a reading that does not scant ambiguity or paradox, but tries to give to the testimony of a witness before a Senate committee or the letters of the Rosenbergs the same careful scrutiny we have learned to practice on the shorter poems of John Donne."
eBook An End to Innocence