Monday, July 14, 2008

"This is great, Ed"

Also at the Science Times, Nicholas Wade interviews E. O. Wilson:
Over lunch he describes his novel in progress, currently titled “Anthill.” Its contents have occasioned certain differences of emphasis between himself and his publisher, even though it was his editor at Norton, Robert Weil, who suggested he write it. Dr. Wilson would like ants to play a large role in the novel, given all the useful lessons that can be drawn from their behavior. The publisher sees a larger role for people and a smaller, at most ant-sized, role for ants. The novel is rotating through draft after draft as this tension is worked out.

Dr. Wilson has won two Pulitzer Prizes for literature, but that is no shield against a publisher’s quest for perfection. “They said, ‘You can do better than that, Ed,’ ” he recalled. “I wrote another draft. They said, ‘This is great, Ed, but we need more emotion, ambivalence.’ ” In the next draft, he plans to have the human characters stand alone, without the ants if necessary.
I must confess that I am curious to read the ant-heavy version! I always think of those great scenes in The Once and Future King...


  1. I'd love to read the ant-heavy version too! I don't know about the humans but it seems like the ants would be chock-full of emotion, ambivalence and interesting behaviors.

    -- CAAF

  2. I think we may sadly conclude that the notional ant-heavy polished version will remain Not Done.