Friday, January 29, 2010

Just a Hack

A friend on Twitter sent me a message about my latest tweet concerning the incredible length of The Count of Monte Cristo, which I'm reading for book club. I'd said I didn't think a 1243 page novel would be published today. My friend lamented (though understanding the publishing cost limitations) that art like that would have to bend to publishers do's and don'ts today.
However, what I failed to mention is Alexander Dumas didn't have his book published back then either. It was published in serial form in cheap newspapers. If you could write fast and melodramatically, then you could make good money and become famous writing stories for the newspapers.
David Copperfield was written this same way. Dickens said one time he was in a store and a lady was complaining at the counter about the next installment of the story of David Copperfield not being available. She said she couldn't wait to find out what happened next. Dickens said that scene struck terror in his heart because he had no idea what was going to happen next either, as he hadn't written it yet!
At one time, Dumas had 4 or 5 different serial stories in the newspapers and became quite famous because of them. (And wonder if these books are sooo long because why stop a good thing when you're getting paid for it?)
Sensational, melodramatic, written quickly - not exactly the picture I had of masters at work on great literature. Sounds more like writers for the National Enquirer, doesn't it?
So let's live our lives, do the work put in front of us and laugh when others say we can't make a difference. 'Cause none of us know what the future holds.


Anonymous said...

Right on! We don't know what the future holds, indeed.

Happy Friday.

Kay Dew Shostak said...

Happy Friday to you too! Have a great one and laugh A LOT!

Reese said...

I read "Count" back in High School for fun - it was great. And "Man in the Iron Mask," and "3 Musketeers," and "Twenty Years After," and a few French titled books he wrote. Obviously, I must have enjoyed them.

I re-read, though a newer translation, "3 Musketeers" a few years ago. Now that I'm grown and paying attention, the characters are actually much less heroic. It's interesting how either age or TV movies impact your impressions of literature over time.

I still enjoy a long book though ;)

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