Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Online NewsHour: A Man in Full- December 11, 1998

"ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: I found in my reading of "A Man in Full" - I found it to be a novel about morality in America, about virtue. Is that what you want people to take away from it?

"TOM WOLFE: You know, I didn't think about this as a novel about virtue, but that's what it became. That - I would never even instinctively have - write a novel that has a particular message from the outset. To me, novels are a trip of discovery, and you discover things that you don't know and you assume that many of your readers don't know, and you try to bring them to life on the page. But when I introduced the subject of stoicism in this book, suddenly, it became a tale of morality. I had this young man, Conrad Hensley, who was out of work and through mishaps was in Oakland. His car is towed, and he eventually gets into a fight with somebody at the pound, the private car pound where these cars are taken, and he ends up in jail. He really has no one to turn to. His wife has given up on him; his parents are worthless, ex-hippies. He has nothing; he has nobody. And, by mistake, he's sent this book about the stoics, and he reads these lines from Epictetus and learns that Epictetus, himself, had been sold as a slave when he was 10 years old to a Roman - he was Greek, himself - he was sold to a Roman military officer."


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