Scribblers For Bread
In 1989 Hodder & Stoughton published George Greenfield's Scribblers For Bread which I bought in hardback for £15.00 and last night started re-reading.
Who was Greenfield? He spent six years in publishing after WW2 and then 35 years as a literary agent before retiring in 1986 as MD of John Farquharson Ltd.
The aim of his book was to show how, since 1945, the conditions in which novels were written and published had changed and how those conditions, and the outlets and markets for fiction, had influenced the professional novelist's aims and achievements.
In the Introduction he writes –
"In the forty years to the end of 1987, discounting reprints, new editions and translations, 90,859 novels were published in the United Kingdom. If the average thickness were an inch and the titles were stacked one on top of the other, the column would rise to a height of over 7,500 feet. But in case the reader might think that the great expansion of post-war fiction writing occurred in the early days and has been dwindling ever since, the facts are surprising. In the period 1946-50, 10,345 novels were published; in 1983-87, 14,762 novels appeared, an increase of nearly 43 per cent."
What would Greenfield make of the situation today? At the end of his book there's a chapter called 'Once upon a future time'. I've forgotten his conclusions and look forward to reading them again. More about Scribblers later.
Links to other blogs
As you may or may not have noticed, in the right-hand sidebar I've added three links to other people's blogs to the original three.
Many bloggers have long lists of links but I prefer to link only to blogs I visit regularly.
I wonder if anyone else has had difficulty posting comments to Susan Hill's blog?
Language so much worse today?
Visiting Arts & Letters Daily this morning [link in sidebar] I read an interesting piece in City Journal by John Leo in which he writes –
"At the beginning of his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell made clear that he thought the language had become disheveled and decadent. Intending shock, Orwell offered five examples of subliterate prose by known writers. But these selections don’t look as ghastly to us as they did to Orwell, because language is so much worse today. Consider some recent usages."
John Leo also writes - "Kurt Vonnegut has said that a writer’s natural style will almost always be drawn from the speech he heard as a child. Vonnegut grew up in Indiana, where, he said, “common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin.” He wrote: “I myself find I trust my own writing most and other people seem to trust it most, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am.” "
I suppose this might be true for people who had settled backgrounds as children. I doubt if it's true for those with pillar-to-post childhoods like mine.