Interviews | June 01, 2003

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Interviewer: The Hours has been terrifically successful. But I’m curious about what you were thinking when you first began the novel. If someone had come up to me and said, “I’m going to rewrite Absalom, Absalom! or War and Peace,” I would have said, “Oh, yeah?”

Cunnigham:  I never thought of myself as rewriting Mrs. Dalloway. I would never presume to do something like that. What I wanted to do was more akin to music, to jazz, where a musician will play improvisations on an existing piece of great music from the past–not to reinvent it, not to lay any kind of claim to it, but to both honor it and try to make other art out of an existing work of art. To use something that actually exists as the basis of something new, very much the way novelists traditionally use their lives and the lives of people around them as their subjects.

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