"The novel is supreme in giving us the possibility of inhabiting other minds. I think it does it better than drama, better than cinema. It’s developed these elaborate conventions over three or four hundred years of representing not only mental states, but change, over time. So in that sense, yes, I think that ‘other minds’ is partly what the novel is about. If you saw the novel as I do in terms of being an exploration of human nature—an investigation of the human condition—then the main tool of that investigation has to be to demonstrate, to somehow give you, on the page, the sensual ‘felt’ feeling of what it is to be someone else.
Surely everyone in childhood makes this slow recognition— in little leaps and starts— that other people are as alive to themselves as you are to yourself. It’s quite a startling discovery. I remember, round about the age of ten, having one of those little epiphanies of ‘I’m me,’ and at the same time thinking, well, everyone must feel this. Everyone must think, ‘I’m me.’ It’s a terrifying idea, I think, for a child, and yet that sense that other people exist is the basis of our morality. You cannot be cruel to someone, I think, if you are fully aware of what it’s like to be them. And to come back to the novel as a form, I think that’s where it is supreme in giving us that sense of other minds.”