mardi 11 octobre 2011

William Dean Howells, THE WORLD OF CHANCE, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1893, 375 pages.

Ray could not have believed, but for the experience which came to him, that there could be so many reasons for declining to publish any one book as the different publishers now gave him. For the most part they deprecated the notion of even looking at it. The book-trade had never been so prostrate before; events of the most unexpected nature had conspired to reduce it to a really desperate condition. The unsettled state of Europe had a good deal to do with it; the succession of bad seasons at the West affected it most distinctly. The approach of a Presidential year was unfavorable to this sensitive traffic. Above all, the suspense created by the lingering and doubtful fate of the international copyright bill was playing havoc with it; people did not know what course to take ; it was impossible to plan any kind of enterprise, or to risk any sort of project. Men who had been quite buoyant in regard to the bill seemed carried down to the lowest level of doubt as to its fate by the fact that Ray had a novel to offer them; they could see no hope for American fiction, if that English trash was destined to flood the market indefinitely. They sympathized with him, but they said they were all in the same boat, and that the only thing was to bring all the pressure each could to bear upon Congress. The sum of their counsel and condolence came to the effect in Ray's mind that his best hope was to get A Modern Romeo printed by Congress as a Public Document and franked by the Senators and Representatives to their constituents. He found a melancholy amusement in noting the change in the mood of those who used to meet him cheerfully and carelessly as the correspondent of a newspaper, and now found themselves confronted with an author, and felt his manuscript at their throats. Some tried to joke; some became helplessly serious; some sought to temporize.
(p. 171-172)

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