Forum / Towards literary perspective

  • Photo_00020.thumb
    Oct 15, 02:05pm

    The business of publishing, when not odious, is tedious enough (not much of a publisher, I may not be much better as a copyeditor or a proofreader, but I have worked in the latter capacities). Publishing is more often a thankless task than a lucrative one for both publisher and author, but et cetera et cetera et cetera.

    The point I struggle to reach here (I write with less than one cup of coffee poured into my eyes this morning) is a follow-up or companion to nearby reflections on the 2016 Nobel laureateship in literature: academic assessments of literary merit are just as tentative, just as provisional, just as interim, and subject to just as much error as any verdict rendered by unit sales once production costs have been calculated.

    To illustrate this point I post a link I found which while it does not hold all the data I sought remains indicative:

    In your copious spare time scroll through and see just how many authors and titles you yourself personally are acquainted with, how many of the titled works you have read, or even other titles by the named authors.

    Fact is, academics are in no better position to confer literary immortality upon anyone than are publishers or marketing agents: I continue to contend that literary status can ONLY be judged properly (to tweak Cyril Connolly and Flannery O'Connor) at least ten years after the writer's death--if he or she is still being read ten years after shuffling off his or her respective mortal coil, then perhaps possibly maybe his or her works might still be read a century or two hence: ONLY posterity can render a sound judgment about "literary immortality".

    Prizes and awards offer authoritative guidance which need not be trusted or believed any more than reliable unit sales figures. Because posterity is not sending us its assessments from distant millennia, we may not even know whether we are perpetrating literature, in spite of whatever assurances academies, prize/award committees, and sales figures offer.

    Much more mystery to our game than sometimes we are willing to concede.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 16, 07:11pm

    Got to wonder how many learned opinions, sniffs, and scoffs would have been hurled into the wind had the Nobel existed in Elizabethan times and bestowed laureateship upon Shakespeare, shameless populist that he was.

  • You must log in to reply to this thread.