High School Student Talks Symbolism with 75 Big Authors (1963)

Let’s let The Paris Review give you the back­sto­ry:

In 1963, a six­teen-year-old San Diego high school stu­dent named Bruce McAl­lis­ter sent a four-ques­tion mimeo­graphed sur­vey to 150 well-known authors of lit­er­ary, com­mer­cial, and sci­ence fic­tion. Did they con­scious­ly plant sym­bols in their work? he asked. Who noticed sym­bols appear­ing from their sub­con­scious, and who saw them arrive in their text, unbid­den, cre­at­ed in the minds of their read­ers? When this hap­pened, did the authors mind?

Of the 150 authors McAl­lis­ter solicit­ed, 75 wrote back, and most offered the young­ster some sub­stan­tive thoughts. Over at The Paris Review, you will find replies by Jack Ker­ouac, Ayn Rand (above), Ralph Elli­son, Ray Brad­bury, John Updike, Saul Bel­low, and Nor­man Mail­er. Not bad for a kid who sent out a form let­ter … and nev­er both­ered to send a thank-you let­ter.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Paris Review Inter­views Now Online

Down­load 20 Pop­u­lar High School Books Avail­able as Free eBooks & Audio Books

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