Friday, January 4, 2008

'If you're going to despair, stop writing'

He was one of Britain's most shocking, uncompromising playwrights. Then he fell out of favour. But now Edward Bond is back. He grants Michael Billington a rare interview

'I'm an extremist," says Edward Bond, sitting in the study of the Cambridgeshire house where he has lived for the past 40 years. "I call myself an extremeophile." This leads the playwright into a series of pronouncements about life and drama that positively invite disagreement: "before 1956 all English plays were Home Counties rubbish", for instance. In an odd way, I am reminded of William Blake. Like Blake, Bond had little formal schooling: his agricultural-labourer father couldn't even read. And, although he doesn't share Blake's mysticism, Bond is a peculiarly visionary English artist who, like the poet, might claim: "I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's."

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