Now you said earlier that it was a quotation from Albert Camus which got you going on this - the classical myth of Sisyphus, who, if I remember rightly, was a chap who had to push rocks up mountains for a penance.
DH: And never got one to the top ... the whole thing was that his work was completely futile.
Now why did that trigger your imagination?
DH: Because I see it as a symbol of all our work, which I regard as being necessary and ultimately futile at the same time.
That's a very hard thing to say
It is a hard thing to say, but everything we do will pass. These plays of mine we're talking about .... their brief life will expire; we shall expire; all our works will expire.
May I just remind you at this point that there are seven of your plays in our Transcription Services radio catalogue...
DH: Well, I'm very glad to hear it, but the time will come when no-one will want to play them any longer, and when they don't mean anything to people..
But at the same time 'A View from the Mountain' is a strangely timeless play.
DH: Yes, I would agree about that .... how do you say it .... I think it is a universal theme. The nature of work and the relationship of man to work, so that it is timeless. Man has been striving since the dawn of creation, and all his strivings are necessary and honourable, and in the end, useless.
Well, it's very bitterly ironic in this play - one of the things which fascinated me about it - why, when sitting in China I couldn't switch it off, was the fact that your hero, if I can call him that, is condemned by his emperor (we don't know who he is or what time it is) to push a lot of rocks up the mountain because he once let one fall in the valley, and it killed somebody, and after many years fulfilling his sentence, people try to get the sentence revoked .... and when they succeed in doing it, the chap who's pushing the rocks doesn't want to stop.
DH: They don't succeed in doing it; they are on the point of success as they think; it isn't that he takes any pleasure in pushing the rocks up the mountain but honour is involved; and his pride in accepting his sentence wholly, and thereby freeing himself from the feeling of servitude to it; and when it is offered, to revoke the sentence; the revoking of the sentence would only occur if he would agree that his life had been spent in a futile way.
Man: I often feel great blessing at evening, when the boulder has gone and the mist is rising along the river, and I turn on light legs down the path to home. What purpose more would I seek? What purposes endure? Cities crumble, nations perish, empires pass. Sons of Adam, we were sentenced to work, we were sentenced to work, we were sentenced to work.....
Woman: You've not spoken so clearly before
Man: I've had thoughts sometimes, on the mountain.
Woman: Your work has not been futile. It has been the source of our blessings. To confess that our life has been wasted in order to appease the emperor is to deny the grace God has shown us through the years. It would be wrong to do that, whatever the cost.