Thursday, 19 July 2007

It is a truth universally acknowledged...

Anyone know the rest?

Well, I do. The opening lines of Jane Austen's seminal Pride and Prejudice kick aimlessly around my head, waiting to spring forth should the rigour of University Challenge or Eggheads demand it.

I blame an Austen obsessed grandparent and comprehensive education's slavish devotion to certain classics. Plus my gender - it is also a truth universally acknowledged that young middle class women naturally gravitate toward period dramas at some point during their adolescence.

The few Austen novel's that I've read - P&P, Emma and Persuasion - I have actually enjoyed. The language is stiff and dated and takes some getting used to but the social commentary is excellent. Give me good ole Jane over Mills and Boon any day.

Anyway, the stuff's literary gold. Or not. Austin aficionado David Lassman, frustrated by his own failure to get into print, decided to see if 18 of the country's biggest publishing firms would recognise a classic, passing off the great author's work as his own. Only one company, Jonathan Cape, realised they had been sent a tweaked except.

I consider this to be a real shame. Lassman received a swathe of polite fob-offs from underlings, illustrating how hard it is for new (or old, in this instance) talent to get noticed. Publishers are businesses, they back books that fit current literary trends and marketing models. How disheartening. Your work stands a slim chance of fitting the bill and even if it does get read its by some overworked editor's assistant who can't spot a rip off.

Nevertheless my brow shall continue to sweat. Someday my masterpiece - involving a transexual go-go dancer from Buenos Aires who saves the Earth from giant Platypi - will astound the world.


James said...

How interesting.

I guess that is the subjectivity of art. I bet if the work had been tagged with Jane Austen all the people who read it would of suddenly started praising the text.

Apologies for self promotion here, but it reminds me of the Joshua Bell thing which I wrote about before you found the 'delights' of my blog. You can read it here if you wish.

Back to Jane Austen, or in fact JK Rowling because isn't it a famous story that she got rejected loads of times by publishers for the Harry Potter book(s) until one smaller publisher took a punt. Now look how much the whole franchise is worth. Having said that I have heard a lot of criticism about her writing style, although it seems to do the trick.

Good luck with the novel, you may need it with that plot.

Em said...

Good article, same kind of jazz...and yeah, I find it interesting

~shrugs~ possibly....I just assumed publishers liked to take on arts would've thought one of them might be able to recognise the work.....

Don't try and bait me on Harry Potter :). Books, you're quitr right, are subjective. There are plenty of literary critics and discerning adults who praise those particular books too....As with everything else...

Read some Glen Duncan...