THE BRITISH writer Alan Sillitoe and his wife, the North American poet Ruth Fainlight used to live in Soller and were friends with Robert Graves, who they used to visit at his home in Deya.
The writer achieved considerable success with his first two books, Saturday night and Sunday morning and The Loneliness of the long-distance runner. He wrote the first book whilst he was living in Majorca between 1953 and 1958, and the book was put on the big screen and interpreted by Albert Finney. The second book was also turned into a film and directed by Tony Richardson. Another of his books, The death of William Posters also makes references to his time in Majorca.
Tell me a little about Majorca?
I have written a lot about my life in Majorca in my first book of memories Life without armour, which still has not been translated into Spanish. During my stay in Soller I wrote a lot of articles and a guide book on Majorca, which was not published. Possibly it was not good enough to publish. I also returned to the island five years ago to write a restaurant guide book.
During that time, in the 1950*s, you were friends with the poet Robert Graves, weren't you?
Effectively. I sent him some poems which he gave me a lot of constructive criticism on. One day he advised me to write about my childhood growing up in Nottingham. That is how Saturday night, Sunday morning came about. My wife and I visited him in Deya, we would walk from Soller, sometimes we would go on bikes: ten kilometres going there, and another ten coming back.
In 2002 you published the follow-up to Saturday night, Sunday morning, which readers were waiting for...
Yes, it is called Birthday, but in the book the event is seen from a different perspective of reality. The first part of the vision from a 22 year old and the second from a 65 year old.
The world today focusses on success and ambition as the main values. For this reason I reread Loneliness of a long-distance runner and again identify with the narrator in Borstal, the penitary institute for delinquent youngsters.
Good, I also believe that the moral of this book is valid for today as well as the time when I wrote it. In fact for it I explored my feelings of loneliness, subjectivity and individualism.
Do you use new ethics at the moment, perhaps in favour of integration?
My way of seeing things has changed. And integration does not seem like a sin, at times we have to adapt ourselves. Currently I see the biggest problems with fundamentalism, as much the Islam religion as Christianity. Both can do a lot of damage to humanity.
We also have the constant threat of war
Current times are difficult to understand. But I agree with those who think that the occupation of Afganistan and Iraq has presented more freedom. I think that the North American peace is not the same as Roman peace. America carries the principal of democracy. I am led to believe that it is a silly thing for normal people to hate Bush.