In an age of authorless, contextless, deconstructed texts, The Writer Writing offers an inquiry into the rich and complex phenomenon of understanding the written word by reconsidering a fundamental concept about agency: writing is an action whose agent is an individual writer. On the most local level, this book offers parallel analyses of Marcel Proust and Bernard Shaw, two writers who made insistent and oddly similar claims about their texts as acts, two contemporaries whose fundamental similarities have been masked by critical technology. On the most global level, it examines the philosophic act of explanation, showing that it is both a constitutive human activity - part of everyday life - and an activity that connects texts as diverse as Saint Joan and A la recherche du temps perdu. It separates for analysis writers' philosophic acts of explanation from their rhetorical acts of persuasion and their poetic acts of representation. The Writer Writing presents a timely and systematic case for reconsidering the genuine originality of individual writers' conceptions of writing as a human activity.