An article can be timely, topical, engaged in the issues and personalities of the moment; it is likely to be stale within the month. In five years, it may have acquired the quaint aura of a rotary phone. An article is usually Siamese-twinned to its date of birth.
An essay is a thing of the imagination. If there is information in an essay, it is by-the-by, and if there is an opinion, one need not trust it for the long run. A genuine essay rarely has an educational, polemical, or sociopolitical use; it is the movement of a free mind at play.
In an essay, you have the outcome in your pocket before you set out on your journey, and very rarely do you make an intellectual or psychological discovery. But when you write fiction, you don't know where you are going - sometimes down to the last paragraph - and that is the pleasure of it.
In books, as in life, there are no second chances. On second thought: it's the next work, still to be written, that offers the second chance.
Hebrew in America has a bemusing past. The Puritans, out of scriptural piety, once dreamed of establishing Hebrew as the national language.
When I say that George Eliot has long been my hero, I mean to include those aspects of her thought and temperament that have been disparaged or dismissed or ignored. She was, after all, a novelist who did not eschew politics or polemics - sometimes silently though defiantly, as in her relationship with George Henry Lewes.
A novel can be set in motion by an incident, a character, a location, a mood - by anything at all. Sometimes the stimulus can be an idea, which will rapidly clothe itself in character and incident. 'Foreign Bodies' came about through the contemplation of the contrast between post-second world war America and Europe.
If I've ever regretted anything, it was putting all my eggs in one basket, holing up and kneeling at the altar of literature, instead of going out and at least reviewing, running around and trying to write for magazines. That would've been the intelligent thing to do, but I didn't, and that was because of fanaticism.