Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Fame, lasting and fleeting
Which would you rather: to be a rich and famous novelist during your lifetime, then sink into obscurity for ever, or struggle while alive and then have everlasting popularity and prestige? Galsworthy or Austen?
I doubt the best-selling vampire and zombie novels will be more than curiosities fifty years from now. Harry Potter just might become a classic, though in my opinion the later books are less entertaining than the early ones. Room, Before I Go To Sleep, and Gone Girl seem to me, gripping though they are, unlikely to last. What do you think? Nominations for lasting/non-lasting contemporary novels in the comments, please.
I hesitantly believe that long term, the public has excellent taste. Shakespeare is valued and Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher all but forgotten. But ... a book has to be published, even if it doesn't sell well during the author's life, to have any hope of becoming lastingly popular. Paintings don't have this problem - see Van Gogh. Had Jane Austen's novels just been circulated among her family, she would be unknown today, to the great loss of the reading public. Which makes me wonder how many terrific books which failed to find a publisher in the last half-century languish in drawers or forgotten in attics, never to find their readers. Thanks to Jeff Bezos, this is far less likely to happen these days.
Posted by Lexi at Wednesday, June 26, 2013