Before he died last September, the intellectual, musician and music critic Edward researched artists in old age, and reflected on the last stages of life as potentially, a time of great creativity.
"What of the last or late period of life, the decay of the body, the onset of ill health (which, in a younger person, brings on the possibility of an untimely end)?" asked Said, in an essay excerpted in The Guardian of London. "These issues, which interest me for obvious personal reasons, have led me to look at the way in which the work of some artists acquires a new idiom towards the end of their lives - what I've come to think of as a late style.
"The accepted notion is that age confers a spirit of reconciliation and serenity on late works, often expressed in terms of a miraculous transfiguration of reality....(Verdi in his final years displayed in his work)
"a renewed, almost youthful creativity and power." Sometimes late works crown a career -- they are the best. "But what of artistic lateness not as harmony and resolution, but as intransigence, difficulty and contradiction? What if age and ill health don't produce serenity at all?" He mentions Ibsen's final works, that "tear apart the artist's career and re-open questions that a late period is supposed to have resolved..." Ibsen's last plays suggest "an angry and disturbed artist," who seeks not closure but to stir up more anxiety. Ibsen "goes against."
The most interesting "late styles," Said observed, were often those that could render "disenchantment and pleasure without resolving the contradiction between them. What holds them in tension, as equal forces straining in opposite directions, is the artist's mature subjectivity, stripped of hubris and pomposity, unashamed either of its fallibility or of the modest assurance it has gained as a result of age and exile."