When the silliness of David Gilmour hit the newspapers, Hazlitt magazine posted the full transcript of the interview. It changes nothing.
Keeler: So do you teach mostly, I guess classic lit, or Russian?
Gilmour: I teach modern short fiction to third-years and first. So I teach mostly Russian and American authors. Not much on the Canadian front.
Keeler: That’s too bad.
Gilmour: I know, it is, but I can only teach stuff I love. I can’t teach stuff that’s on that curriculum, and I just haven’t encountered any Canadian writers yet that I love enough to teach.
Gilmour: Come in!
[A student or colleague of Gilmour’s comes in. They speak to each other in French.]
Keeler: I notice that you don’t have many, like, books by women.
Gilmour: I’m not interested in teaching books by women. I’ve never found—Virginia Woolf is the only writer that interests me as a woman writer, so I do teach one short story from Virginia Woolf. But once again, when I was given this job I said I would teach only the people that I truly, truly love. And, unfortunately, none of those happen to be Chinese, or women. Um. Except for Virginia Woolf. And when I try Virginia Woolf, I find she actually doesn’t work. She’s too sophisticated. She’s too sophisticated for even a third-year class. So you’re quite right, and usually at the beginning of the semester someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I’m good at is guys.
Keeler: And guys’ guys, too.
Gilmour: Yeah, very serious heterosexual guys. Elmore Leonard. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy guys. That’s a very good observation. Henry Miller. Uh. Philip Roth.
Being the kind of novelist Gilmour truly, truly loves is just more of a guy thing, that’s all.
That’s ok. If the University of Toronto wants a novelist teaching novels – which is not a crazy thing to want – then ok, he doesn’t have to measure up to normal academic standards which would require a considerably broader curriculum. That’s ok. But still the fact is that he’s very narrow, and apparently not even aware that he’s very narrow.
Mary Ellen Foley pointed out a satirical response from the woman down the hall.
I teach only the best. I don’t have low shelf-esteem, so I won’t tell you how many times I’ve read To the Lighthouse (100 times). What happens with great literature is that the shadows on the pages move around. The same thing happens with mediocre literature on a slow afternoon, but I digress. I teach only the best. I haven’t encountered any Russian writers yet that I love enough to teach. Once again, when I was given this job I said I would only teach the people that I truly, truly love. Next semester I plan to offer a seminar on me.
[UPDATE:] Those remarks were totally off the cuff. At the time of the interview, I was Skyping with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to negotiate peace. Moreover, I was gestating a human child inside of my own body.
Someone’s knocking at the door, I gotta go.