Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Tom Eaton

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

A Suitably Rich Boy

Vikram Seth, who received a R2-million advance for A Suitable Boy, at the Jaipur Literary Festival today:

“Good books get praised, bad books get praised. Good books get ignored, bad books get ignored. The world is, at best, indifferent to writers.”

Yes, sir, Vikram! Sign me up for some of that indifference! And then it’s dinner and dancing ’til dawn, rounded of with cigars on the poop deck and long maudlin chats about how nobody pays us nearly enough attention.

Oh, and tip the waiter in Euros, darling. Pounds aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on these days.

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    January 22nd, 2009 @18:34 #
     
    Top

    Whenever publishers call to offer me an advance, I always reply: "Silly fellow, you haven't even read the manuscript! How can you tell if it's going to be any good?!"

    That or: "Sorry, you must have the wrong number."

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    January 22nd, 2009 @19:10 #
     
    Top

    What is this thing called advance? Is it like tango I do with publishers in which I advance and they retreat?

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://margieorford.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Margie</a>
    Margie
    January 22nd, 2009 @20:22 #
     
    Top

    There is much to be said for advances and even more to be written.

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://alexsmith.book.co.za/" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    January 22nd, 2009 @23:12 #
     
    Top

    And indifference to writers, muses, Fame and Genius too..."Nature seems (the more we look into it) made up of antipathies: without something to hate, we should lose the very spring of thought and action. Life would turn to a stagnant pool, were it not ruffled by the jarring interests, the unruly passions, of men. The white streak in our own fortunes is brightened (or just rendered visible by making all around it as dark as possible; so the rainbow paints its form upon the cloud. Is it pride? Is it envy? Is it the force of contrast? Is it weakness or malice? But so it is, that there is a secret affinity, a hankering after, evil in the human mind, and that it takes a perverse, but a fortunate delight in mischief, since it is a never-failing source of satisfaction. Pure good soon grows insipid, wants variety and spirit. Pain is a bittersweet, wants variety and spirit. Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust: hatred alone is immortal... We take a dislike to our favourite books, after a time, for the same reason. We cannot read the same works for ever. Our honey-moon, even though we wed the Muse, must come to an end; and is followed by indifference, if not by disgust. There are some works, those indeed that produce the most striking effect at first by novelty and boldness of outline, that will not bear reading twice: others of a less extravagant character, and that excite and repay attention by a greater nicety of details, have hardly interest enough to keep alive our continued enthusiasm. The popularity of the most successful writers operates to wean us from them, by the cant and fuss that is made about them, by hearing their names everlastingly repeated, and by the number of ignorant and indiscriminate admirers they draw after them: - we as little like to have to drag others from their unmerited obscurity, lest we should be exposed to the charge of affectation and singularity of taste. There is nothing to be said respecting an author that all the world have made up their minds about: it is a thankless as well as hopeless task to recommend one that nobody has ever heard of. To cry up Shakespear as the god of our idolatry, seems like a vulgar national prejudice: to take down a volume of Chaucer, or Spenser, or Beaumont and Fletcher, or Ford, or Marlowe, has very much the look of pedantry and egotism. I confess it makes me hate the very name of Fame and Genius, when works like these are "gone into the wastes of time," while each successive generation of fools is busily employed in reading the trash of the day..."

    From Hazlitt's "On the Pleasure of Hating" -- full essay at http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Essays/Hazlitt/Hating.htm

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    January 22nd, 2009 @23:30 #
     
    Top

    Tom, who would have thought that you and William Hazlitt (1778-1830) were soulmates?

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://alexsmith.book.co.za/" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    January 22nd, 2009 @23:34 #
     
    Top

    Helen you're up:))

    Bottom
  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    January 22nd, 2009 @23:47 #
     
    Top

    Of course I'm up (editing piece on SA's impact on the frontline states -- my eyes are crossing). You're up, too, but you're probably brewing a delicious blog!

    Bottom

Please register or log in to comment

» View comments as a forum thread and add tags in BOOK Chat