dimanche 30 octobre 2011

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

And when at last he drew her arm through his and walked beside her in the darkness to the corner where she had left her motor, he wondered if at crucial moments the same veil of unreality would always fall between himself and the soul nearest him, if the creator of imaginary beings must always feel alone among the real ones.
(p. 536)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

As the doctor said, there was really very little to do; and after a few days Vance tried to get back to work. As soon as he sat down at his desk he was overwhelmed by an uncontrollable longing to plunge again into his novel. Once before — after seeing his grandfather by the river with Floss Delaney — he had been dragged back to life by the need to work his anguish out in words. Now, at this direr turn of his life, he found himself possessed by the same craving, as if his art must be fed by suffering, like some exquisite insatiable animal. . . . But what did all that matter, when the job before him was not novel-writing but inventing blurbs for “Storecraft”? He had already spent a good part of Hayes’s cheque, and he would need more money soon; his business now was to earn it. He clenched his fists and sat brooding over the model “ads” till it was time to carry in the iced milk to Laura Lou. But he had not measured the strength of the force that propelled him. In his nights of unnatural vigil his imagination had acquired a fierce impetus that would not let him rest. Words sang to him like the sirens of Ulysses; sometimes the remembering of a single phrase was like entering into a mighty temple. He knew, as never before, the rapture of great comet flights of thought across the heaven of human conjecture, and the bracing contact of subjects minutely studied, without so much as a glance beyond their borders. Now and then he would stop writing and let his visions sweep him away; then he would return with renewed fervour to the minute scrutiny of his imaginary characters. There was something supernatural and compulsory in this strange alternation between creating and dreaming. Sometimes the fatigue of his nights would overcome him in full activity, and he would drop into a leaden sleep at his desk; and once, when he roused himself, he found his brain echoing with words read long ago, in his early days of study and starvation: “I was swept around all the elements and back again; I saw the sun shining at midnight in purest radiance; gods of heaven and gods of hell I saw face to face and adored them...” Yes, that was it; gods of heaven and gods of hell . . . and they had mastered him. . . . He got the milk out of the icebox, and carried it in to Laura Lou. . . .
(p. 516-517)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

All that made his work worthwhile, all that made the force of his vocation, was apparently invisible or incomprehensible to others. He longed to learn more about this mysterious craft, the instruments of which some passing divinity had carelessly dropped into his hands, leaving him to puzzle out their use; but the intelligent and admiring people to whom he strove to communicate his curiosities seemed unable to follow him. “Oh, you’re too modest,” one cordial critic assured him; and another: “I suppose when you start a story you don’t always know yourself how it’s going to end. . . .” Not know how it’s going to end! Then these people had never heard that footfall of Destiny which, for Vance, seemed to ring out in the first page of all the great novels, as compelling as the knock of Macbeth’s gates, as secret as the opening measures of the Fifth Symphony? Gratz Blemer, even, whom he managed to corner later in the evening, and whose book gave him so great a sense of easy power — Gratz Blemer, good-natured and evidently ready to be communicative, twisted a cigar between his thick lips, stared at the ceiling, and returned from it to say: “Novel-writing? Why, I don’t know. You have a story you want to tell, and instead of buttonholing a fellow and pouring it out — which is the only natural way — you shut yourself up and reel it off on a Remington, and send it to the publisher, so that more fellows can hear it. That’s the only difference, I guess — that and the cash returns,” he added with a well-fed chuckle. “Yes, but — ” Vance gasped, disheartened.
“Well, what?”
“I mean, how does the thing germinate, spread itself above and below the surface? There’s something so treelike, so preordained. . . . I came across something in Blake the other day that made me think of it: ‘Man is born like a garden ready planted and sown. This world is too poor to produce one seed.’ That just hints at the mystery . . . but I can’t make it all out — can you?”
Blemer gave his jovial laugh. “Never tried to,” he said, reaching with a plump hairy hand for a passing cocktail. And after a moment he added good-naturedly: “See here, young man, don’t you go and read the Prophets and get self-conscious about your work, or you’ll take to writing fifty pages about a crack in the ceiling — and then the Cocoanut Tree’ll grovel before you, but your sales’ll go down with a rush.” No, evidently Blemer did not know how or why he wrote his novels, and could not even conceive the existence of the problems which were Vance’s passion and despair. . . . The footfall of Destiny would never keep him from his sleep . . . and yet he had written a good book.
(p. 400-402)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

“And now about the next novel,” he said, a ring of possessorship in his voice. The terms proposed (a third in advance, if Mr. Weston chose) made Vance’s blood drum in his ears; but there was a change of tone when he began to outline Loot. A big novel of modern New York? What — another? Tempting subject, yes — tremendous canvas — but there’d been so many of them! The public was fed up with skyscrapers and niggers and bootleggers and actresses. Fed up equally with Harlem and with the opera, with Greenwich Village and the plutocrats. What they wanted was something refined — something to appeal to the heart. Couldn’t Mr. Weston see that by the way his own book had been received? Why not follow up the success of Instead by another novel just like it? The quaintness of the story — so to speak — had taken everybody’s fancy. Why not leave the New York show to fellows like Fynes, and the new man Gratz Blemer, who couldn’t either of them do anything else, didn’t even suspect there was anything else to do? This Gratz Blemer: taking three hundred thousand words to tell the story of a streetwalker and a bootblack, and then calling it This Globe! Why, you could get round the real globe nowadays a good deal quicker than you could dig your way through that book! No, no, the publisher said — if Mr. Weston would just listen to him, and rely on his long experience . . . Well, would he think it over, anyhow? A book just like Instead, only about forty thousand words longer. If Instead had a blemish, it was being what the dry-goods stores called an “outsize”; the public did like to get what they were used to. . . . And if a novelist had had the luck to hit on something new that they took a shine to, it was sheer suicide not to give them more of it. . . .
(p. 398)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

He had spoken the plain truth when he told Frenside that nothing mattered but his work. When that possessed him it swept away all material miseries, poverty, debt, the uncertainty of the future, the dull dissatisfactions of the present. He felt that he could go without food, money, happiness — even happiness — as long as the might within drove him along the creative way. . . . “That’s a man to talk to,” he thought, tingling with the glow of Frenside’s rude sincerity. He was dead right, too, about a thing like Instead being a sideshow, about the necessity of coming to grips with reality, with the life about him. Vance brushed aside the vision of his East Indian novel — the result of a casual glance at a captivating book called The French in India — and said to himself: “He’s right, again, when he says I ought to go into society, see more people, study — what’s the word he used? — manners. I read too much, and don’t brush up against enough people. If I’m going to write Loot I’ve got to get my store clothes out of pawn.” He laughed at the idea. . . .
(p. 381)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

“Yes — it’s a bad time for a creator of any sort to be born, in this after-war welter, with its new recipe for immortality every morning. And I suppose, for one thing, you’re torn between the demands of your publishers, who want another Instead, and your own impulse, which is to do something quite different — outside it, beyond it, away from it. And when you add to that all the critics (I believe they call themselves) knocking down their own standards once a day, and building up others to suit their purblind necessities — God, yes, it’s a tough old vocation that will force its way through that yelping crowd, and I don’t wonder a youngster like you is dazed by it.”
(p. 376)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

Rauch had said the title didn’t sound incandescent. Well, the book, if it was ever written, wouldn’t be incandescent either. Vance was more and more conscious of some deep-seated difference that cut him off from the circumambient literary “brightness,” or rather left him unsatisfied by it. Perhaps he could have written like those other clever fellows whose novels and stories he devoured as they appeared. He was quick at picking up tricks of language and technique; and his reading had taught him what Frenside had meant by saying he was at the sedulous age. Ape these fellows — yes, he knew he could! He’d tried his hand at it, not always quite consciously; but though he was sometimes rather pleased with the result he always ended by feeling that it wasn’t his natural way of representing things. These brilliant verbal gymnastics — or the staccato enumeration of a series of physical aspects and sensations — they all left him with the sense of an immense emptiness underneath, just where, in his own vision of the world, the deep forces stirred and wove men’s fate. If he couldn’t express that in his books he’d rather chuck it, and try real estate or reporting. . . . Some of the novels people talked about most excitedly — Price of Meat, say, already in its seventieth thousand, or Egg Omelette, which had owed its start to pulpit denunciations and the quarrel of a Prize Committee over its exact degree of indecency — well, he had begun both books with enthusiasm, as their authors appeared to have; and then, at a certain point, had felt the hollowness underfoot, and said to himself: “No, life’s not like that, people are not like that. The real stuff is way down, not on the surface.” When he got hold of Faust at the Willows, and came to the part about the mysterious Mothers, moving in subterranean depths among the primal forms of life, he shouted out: “That’s it — the fellows that write those books are all Motherless!” And Laura Lou, hurrying down duster in hand, rushed in exclaiming: “Oh, Vanny, I thought there were burglars!”
(p. 320-321)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

Vance understood and winced. The use of the business vocabulary was what he recoiled from. That there should be "deals," trasactions, compromises in business was a matter of course to him. That was business, as he understood it; his father's life was a labyrinth of such underground arrangements. But Vance had never taken any interest in business, or heard applied to it the standards of loyalty which are supposed to regulate men's private lives, and which he had always thought of as prevailing in the republic of letters. To him an artist's work was essentially a part of the private life, something closer than the marrow to the bone. Anything that touched the sanctity, the incorruptibility, of the creative art was too contemptible to be seriously considered. As well go back to doing write-ups for the Free Speaker... Vance looked at the clever youth behind the smoke wreaths, and thought: "Queer that a fellow who writes poetry can care for that sort of success..." for the poets seemed to him hardly lower than the angels.
(p. 246)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

But Tarrant [Halo's husband and Vance's publisher] wanted to do more. He understood that Weston was just married, and he knew that when a man takes on domestic responsibilities there's nothing like a steady job, even a small one, for making his mind easy. The Hour therefore proposed to let Vance try his hand at a monthly article on current literary events. They'd find a racy title, and let him have full swing - no editorial interference if the first articles took. A fresh eye and personal views were what they were after - none of the old mumified traditions. And for those twelve articles they would guarantee him a salary of fifteen hundred a year for three years, without prejudice to what he earned by his fiction: say a hundred and fifty for the next two stories after "Unclaimed," and double that for the following year, if he would guarantee three stories a year, or possibly four. Only, of course, he was to pledge himself not to write for any other paper or publisher - no other publisher, because The Hour's solicitude included an arrangement for book publication with their own publishers, Dreck and Saltzer. Tarrant had gone into all that so that Weston should be able to get to work at once, free from business worries. He'd had some difficulty in getting a publisher to look at it that way and sign for three years, but he'd fought it out with them, and as Dreck and Saltzer were great believers in The Hour they'd finally agreed, and had the contract ready. "So now all you'll have to do is to lie back and turn out masterpieces," Rauch cheerfully concluded, lighting a final cigarette.
(p. 244) 

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

This boy's hands were different: sturdier, less diaphanous, with blunter fingertips, though the fingers were long and flexible. A worker's hand, she thought; a maker's hand. She wondered what he would make.
(p. 215)
[Héloïse "Halo" Tarrant et Vance Weston]

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

But gradually a luminous point emerged out of the enveloping fog. "Newspaper won't help you," Frenside had said; and Vance was suddenly aware that the dictum chimed with his own deep inward conviction. It had always seemed to him that newspapers, as he knew them, were totally unrelated to literature as he had always dreamded of it, and as he now knew that it existed. Yet was Frenside right - was he himself right? Everyone always said: "Nothing like newspaper work as a training if a fellow wants to write. Teaches you not to waste time, to go straight to the point, to put things in a bright snappy way that won't bore people..." Ugh, how he hated all the qualities thus commended! What a newspaper man like Bunty Hayes, for instance, would have called wasting time seemed to Vance one of the fundamental needs of the creative process. He could not imagine putting down on paper anything that had not risen slowly to the verge of his consciousness, that had not to be fished for and hauled up with infinite precauttions from some secret pool of being as to which he knew nothing yet but the occasional leap, deep down in it, of something alive but invisible... And this Frenside, whom he did not like, whose manner offended him, whose views awoke his instinctive antagonism, had yet, in that one phrase, summed up his own obscure feeling. "Buckle down and write"; yes - he had always felt that to be the only way. But to do it a fellow must be quiet, must have enough to eat, must be fairly free from material anxieties; and how was he to accomplish that? he didn't know - but he was so grateful for the key word furnished by Frenside that nothing else seemed much to matter; not the disparagement of his poems, the shrug at his novel, or the assumption that his aspirations were bound to be exactly like those of any other young fool who presented himself to an editor with a first bundle of manuscript.
(p. 166-167)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

Yet loneliness was the core of that misery; incessant gnawing loneliness of mind and heart. He was benumbed by the feeling that in the huge wilderness of people about him not one had ever heard of him, or would take the least interest in his case if he should appeal for understanding; not one would care a straw that within him all the forces of the universe were boiling. he felt the same desolation, the sense of life being over for him, as when he had staggered down the passage to his parents' room and groped for the absent revolver...
(p. 156)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

The noise and rush of traffic, the clamour of the signboards, the glitter of the innumerable shops distracted him from his purpose, and hours passed as he strayed on curiously from street to street. Some faculty separate from mind or heart, something detached and keen, was roused in him by this tumult of life and wealth and energy, this ceaseless outpour of more people, more noises, more motors, more shopfuls of tempting and expensive things. he thought what fun it would be to write a novel of New York and call it Loot - and he began to picture how different life would have seemed that morning had he had the typescript of the finished novel under his arm, and been on his way to the editorial offices of one of the big magazines. The idea for a moment swept away all his soreness and loneliness, and made his heart dilate with excitement. "Well, why not?... I'll stay here till I've done it," he swore to himself in a fever of defiance.
(p. 153)

Edith Wharton, HUDSON RIVER BRACKETED, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1929, 536 pages.

He meant to answer his father then and there, and to say: "I guess I'd better go on a newspaper." For he had made up his mind to be a writer, and if possible a poet, and he had never heard of any way to Parnassus save that which led through the columns of the daily press, and ranged from baseball reports to the exposure of business scandals.
(p. 26)

mardi 11 octobre 2011

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

He lay awake in the sleeping-car the greater part of the night, and turned from side to side, seeking for the reason of a thing that can never have any reason, and trying to find some parity between his expectations and experiences of himself in such an affair. It went through his mind that it would be a good thing to write a story with some such situation in it; only the reader would not stand it. People expected love to begin mysteriously, but they did not like it to end so; though life itself began mysteriously and ended so. He believed that he should really try it; a story that opened with an engagement ought to be as interesting as one that closed with an engagement; and it would be very original. He must study his own affair very closely when he got a little further away from it. There was no doubt but that when the chances that favored love were so many and so recognizable, the chance that undid it could at last be recognized. It was merely a chance, and that ought to be shown.
(p. 373-374)

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

He could not define the peculiar attraction that the novel seemed to have, even when frankly invited to do so by a vivid young girl who wrote New York letters for a Southern paper, and who came to interview him about it. The most that he could say was that it had struck a popular mood. She was very grateful for that idea, and she made much of it in her next letter; but she did not succeed in analyzing this mood, except as a general readiness for psychological fiction on the part of a reading public wearied and disgusted with the realism of the photographic, commonplace school. She was much more precise in her personal account of Ray; the young novelist appeared there as a type of manly beauty, as to his face and head, but of a regrettably low stature, which, however, you did not observe while he remained seated. It was specially confided to lady readers that his slightly wavy dark hair was parted in the middle over a forehead as smooth and pure as a girl's. The processed reproduction of Ray's photograph did not perfectly bear out her encomium; but it was as much like him as it was like her account of him. His picture began to appear in many places, with romanced biographies, which made much of the obscurity of his origin and the struirsdes of his early life. When it came to be said that he sprang from the lower classes, it brought him a letter of indignant protest from his mother, who reminded him that his father was a physician, and his people had always been educated and respectable on both sides. She thought that he ought to write to the papers and stop the injurious paragraph; and he did not wholly convince her that this was impossible.
(p. 355-356)

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

Ray glanced at the space defined, and saw that it was occupied by a review of A Modern Romeo. There were lengths of large open type for the reviewer's introduction and comments and conclusion, and embedded among these, in closer and finer print, extracts from the novel, where Ray saw his own language transfigured and glorified.
The critic struck in the beginning a note which he sounded throughout; a cry of relief, of exultation, at what was apparently the beginning of a new order of things in fiction. He hailed the unknown writer of A Modern Romeo as the champion of the imaginative and the ideal against the photographic and the commonplace, and he expressed a pious joy in the novel as a bold advance in the path that was to lead forever away from the slough of realism. But he put on a philosophic air in making the reader observe that it was not absolutely a new departure, a break, a schism; it was a natural and scientific evolution, it was a development of the spiritual from the material; the essential part of realism was there, but freed from the grossness, the dulness of realism as Ave had hitherto known it, and imbued with a fresh life. He called attention to the firmness and fineness with which the situation was portrayed and the characters studied before the imagination began to deal with them; and then he asked the reader to notice how, when this foundation had once been laid, it was made to serve as a "star-ypointing pyramid" from which the author's fancy took its bold flight through realms untravelled by the photographic and the commonplace. lie praised the style of the book, which he said corresponded to the dual nature of the conception, and recalled Thackeray in the treatment of persons and things, and Hawthorne in the handling of motives and ideas. There was, in fact, so much subtlety in the author's dealing with these, that one might almost suspect a feminine touch, but for the free and virile strength shown in the passages of passion and action.
The reviewer quoted several of such passages, and Ray followed with a novel intensity of interest the words he already knew by heart. The whole episode of throwing the cousin over the cliff was reprinted; but the parts which the reviewer gave the largest room and the loudest praise were those embodying the incidents of the hypnotic trance and the tragical close of the story. Here, he said, was a piece of the most palpitant actuality, and he applauded it as an instance of how the imagination might deal with actuality. Nothing in the whole range of commonplace, photographic, realistic fiction was of such striking effect as this employment of a scientific discovery in the region of the ideal. He contended that whatever lingering doubt people might have of the usefulness of hypnotism as a remedial agent, there could be no question of the splendid success with which the writer of this remarkable novel had turned it to account in poetic fiction of a very high grade. He did not say the highest grade; the book had many obvious faults. It was evidently the first book of a young writer, whose experience of life had apparently been limited to a narrow and comparatively obscure field. It was in a certain sense provincial, even parochial; but perhaps the very want of an extended horizon had concentrated the author's thoughts the more penetratingly on the life immediately at hand. What was important was that he had seen this life with the vision of an idealist, and had discerned its poetic uses with the sense of the born artist, and had set it in

"The light that never was on sea or land." 

Much more followed to like effect, and the reviewer closed with a promise to look with interest for the future performance of a writer who had already given much more than the promise of mastery; who had given proofs of it. His novel might not be the great American novel which we had so long been expecting, but it was a most notable achievement in the right direction. The author was the prophet of better things; he was a Moses, who, if we followed him, would lead us up from the flesh-pots of Realism toward the promised land of the Ideal.
(p. 347-349)

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

" Is your novel a failure ?" she asked.
"Don't you know it is? It's been out three weeks, and nobody seems to know it. That's my grief, now; it may one day be my consolation. I don't complain. Mr. Brandreth still keeps his heroic faith in it, and even old Kane was trying to rise on the wings of favorable prophecy when I saw him just before dinner. But I haven't the least hope any more. I think I could stand it better if I respected the book itself more. But to fail in a bad cause — that's bitter." He stopped, knowing as well as if he had put his prayer in words, that he had asked her to encourage him, and if possible, flatter him.
"I've been reading it all through again, since it came out," she said.
"Oh, have you?" he palpitated.
"And I have lent it to the people in the house here, and they have read it. They are very intelligent in a kind of way" —
"Yes?"
"And they have been talking to me about it; they have been discussing the characters in it. They like it because they say they can understand just how every one felt. They like the hero, and Mrs. Simpson cried over the last scene. She thinks you have managed the heroine's character beautifully. Mr. Simpson wondered whether you really believe in hypnotism. They both said they felt as if they were living it."
Ray listened with a curious mixture of pleasure and of pain. He knew very well that it was not possible for such people as the Simpsons to judge his story with as fine artistic perception as that old society woman who thought he meant to make his characters cheap and ridiculous, and in the light of this knowledge their praise galled him. But then came the question whether they could not judge better of its truth and reality. If he had made a book which appealed to the feeling and knowledge of the great, simply-conditioned, sound-hearted, common-schooled American mass whom the Simpsons represented, he had made his fortune. He put aside that other question, which from time to time presses upon every artist, whether he would rather please the few who despise the judgment of the many, or the many who have no taste, but somehow have in their keeping the touchstone by which a work of art proves itself a human interest, and not merely a polite pleasure. Ray could not make this choice. He said dreamily: "If Mr. Bran-dreth could only find out how to reach all the Simpsons with it! I believe a twenty-five-cent paper edition would be the thing after all. I wish you could tell me just what Mr. and Mrs. Simpson said of the book ; and if you can remember what they disliked as well as what they liked in it."
(p. 342-343)

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

"It's about the career of a book; how it begins to go, and why, and when."
"Apropos of A Modern Romeo?" Ray asked, harshly.
"If you please, A Modern Romeo." Ray took the chair which Mr. Brandreth signed a clerk to bring him from without. Kane went on: "It's very curious, the history of these things, and I've looked into it somewhat. Ordinarily a book makes its fortune, or it doesn't, at once. I should say this was always the case with a story that had already been published serially; but with a book that first appears as a book, the chances seem to be rather more capricious. The first great success with us was Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that was assured before the story was finished in the old National Era, where it was printed. But that had an immense motive power behind it — a vital question that affected the whole nation."
"I seem to have come too late for the vital questions," said Ray.
"Oh no! oh no! There are always plenty of them left. There is the industrial slavery, which exists on a much more universal scale than the chattel slavery ; that is still waiting its novelist."
"Or its Trust of novelists," Ray scornfully suggested.
"Very good; very excellent good; nothing less than a syndicate perhaps could grapple with a theme of such vast dimensions."
"It would antagonize a large part of the reading public," Mr. Brandreth said; but he had the air of making a mental memorandum to keep an eye out for MSS. dealing with industrial slavery.
"So much the better! So much the better!" said Kane. "Robert Elsmere antagonized much more than half its readers by its religious positions. But that wasn't what I was trying to get at. I was thinking about how some of the phenomenally successful books hung fire at first."
"Ah, that interests me as the author of a phenomenally successful book that is still hanging fire," sighed Ray.
Kane smiled approval of his attempt to play with his pain, and went on: "You know that Gates Ajar, which sold up into the hundred thousands, was three months selling the first fifteen hundred."
"Is that so?" Ray asked. "A Modern Romeo has been three weeks selling the first fifteen." He laughed, and Mr. Brandreth with him; but the fact encouraged him, and he could see that it encouraged the publisher.
"We won't speak of Mr. Barnes of New York" —
"Oh no! Don't! " cried Ray.
"You might be very glad to have written it on some accounts, my dear boy," said Kane.
"Have vou read it?"
"That's neither here nor there. I haven't seen Little Lord Fauntleroy. But I wanted to speak of Looking Backward. Four months after that was published, the first modest edition was still unsold."
Kane rose. "I just dropped in to impart these facts to your publisher, in case you and he might be getting a little impatient of the triumph which seems to be rather behind time. I suppose you've noticed it? These little disappointments are not suffered in a corner."
"Then your inference is that at the end of three or four months A Modern Romeo will be selling at the rate of five hundred a day ? I'm glad for Brandreth here, but I shall be dead by that time."
"Oh no! Oh no!" Kane softly entreated, while he took Ray's hand between his two hands. "One doesn't really die of disappointed literature any more than one dies of disappointed love. That is one of the pathetic superstitions which we like to cherish in a world where we get well of nearly all our hurts, and live on to a hale old imbecility. Depend upon it, my dear boy, you will survive your book at least fifty years." Kane wrung Ray's hand, and got himself quickly away.
(p. 336-338)

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

There was no immediate clamor over it. In fact, it was received so passively by the public and the press that the author might well have doubted whether there was any sort of expectation of it, in spite of the publisher's careful preparation of the critic's or the reader's mind. There came back at once from obscure quarters a few echoes, more or less imperfect, of the synopsis of the book's attractions sent out with the editorial copies, but the influential journals remained heart-sickeningly silent concerning A Modern Romeo. There was a boisterous and fatuous eulogy of the book in the Midland Echo, which Ray knew for the expression of Sanderson's friendship; but eager as he was for recognition, he could not let this count; and it was followed by some brief depreciatory paragraphs in which he perceived the willingness of Hanks Brothers to compensate themselves for having so handsomely let Sanderson have his swing. He got some letters of acknowledgment from people whom he had sent the book; he read them with hungry zest, but he could not make himself believe that they constituted impartial opinion; not even the letter of the young lady who had detected him in the panoply of his hero, and who now wrote to congratulate him on a success which she too readily took for granted. One of his sisters replied on behalf of his father and mother, and said they had all been sitting up reading the story aloud together, and that their father liked it as much as any of them; now they were anxious to see what the papers would say; had he read the long review in the Echo, and did not he think it rather cool and grudging for a paper that he had been connected with? He hardly knew whether this outburst of family pride gave him more or less pain than an anonymous letter which he got from his native village, and which betrayed the touch of the local apothecary; his correspondent, who also dealt in books, and was a man of literary opinions, heaped the novel with ridicule and abuse, and promised the author a coat of tar and feathers on the part of his betters whom he had caricatured, if ever he should return to the place. Ray ventured to offer a copy to the lady who had made herself his social sponsor in New York, and he hoped for some intelligent praise from her. She asked him where in the world he had got together such a lot of queer people, like nothing on earth but those one used to meet in the old days when one took country board; she mocked at the sufferings of his hero, and said what a vulgar little piece his heroine was; but she supposed he meant them to be what they were, and she complimented him on his success in handling them. She confessed, though, that she never read American novels, or indeed any but French ones, and that she did not know exactly where to rank his work; she burlesqued a profound impression of the honor she ought to feel in knowing a distinguished novelist. "You'll be putting us all into your next book, I suppose. Mind you give me golden hair, not yet streaked with silver."
(p. 330-333)

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

Ray could deal lightly with his rejected novel, but even while he made an open jest of it, the book was still inwardly dear to him. He still had his moments of thinking it a great book, in places. He was always mentally comparing it with other novels that came out, and finding it better. He could not see why they should have got publishers, and his book not; he had to fall back upon that theory of mere luck which first so emboldens and then so embitters the heart; and the hope that lingered in him was mixed with cynicism.
(p. 262)

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

In all his straits Ray not only did his best, but he kept true to a certain ideal of himself as an artist. There were some things he could not do even to make a living. He might sell anything he wrote, and he might write anything within the bounds of honesty that would sell, but he could not sell his pen, or let it for hire, to be used as the lessee wished. It was not the loftiest grade of aesthetics or ethics, and perhaps the distinctions he made were largely imaginary. But he refused the partnership offered him, though it came with a flattering recognition of his literary abilities, and of his peculiar fitness for the work proposed.
(p. 212-213)

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)

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

"Why, my dear friend!" cried Kane, "what is the matter?"
Ray kept silent till he could say coldly, "Nothing. It's all over."
Kane stepped into the room, and took off his hat. "If you haven't been rejected by the object of your affections, you have had the manuscript of your novel declined. These are the only things that really bring annihilation. I think the second is worse. A man is never so absolutely and solely in love with one woman but he knows some other who is potentially lovable; that is the wise provision of Nature. But while a man has a manuscript at a publisher's, it is the only manuscript in the world. You can readily work out the comparison. I hope you have merely been disappointed in love, my dear boy."
Ray smiled ruefully. "I'm afraid it's worse."
"Then Chapley & Co. have declined your novel definitely?"
"Not in set terms; or not yet. But their readers have all reported against it, and I've passed the night in reading their opinions. I've got them by heart. Would you like to hear me repeat them ?" he demanded, with a fierce self-scorn.
Kane looked at him compassionately. "Heaven forbid! I could repeat them, I dare say, as accurately as you; the opinions of readers do not vary much, and I have had many novels declined."
"Have you?" Kay faltered with compunction for his arrogation of all such suffering to himself.
(p. 164-165)

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

He put his manuscript on the seat in the elevated train, and partly sat upon it, that he might not forget it when he left the car. But as he read the professional opinions of it he wished the thing could lose him, and never find him again. No other novel, he thought, could ever have had such a variety of certain faults, together with the vague merit which each of its critics seemed to feel in greater measure or less. Their work, he had to own, had been faithfully done; he had not even the poor consolation of accusing them of a neglect of duty. They had each read his story, and they spoke of it with intelligence in a way, if not every way. Each condemned it on a different ground, but as it stood they all joined in condemning it; and they did not so much contradict one another as dwell on different defects ; so that together they covered the whole field with their censure. One of them reproached it for its crude realism, and the sort of helpless fidelity to provincial conditions which seemed to come from the author's ignorance of anything different. Another blamed the youthful romanticism of its dealings with passion. A third pointed out the gross improbability of the plot in our modern circumstance. A fourth objected to the employment of hypnotism as a clumsy piece of machinery, and an attempt to reach the public interest through a prevailing fad. A fifth touched upon the obvious imitation of Hawthorne in the psychical analyses. A sixth accused the author of having adopted Thackeray's manner without Thackeray's material.
Ray resented, with a keen sense of personal affront, these criticisms in severalty, but their combined effect was utter humiliation, though they were less true taken together than they were separately. At the bottom of his sore and angry heart he could not deny their truth, and yet he knew that there was something in his book which none of them had taken account of, and that this was its life, which had come out of his own. He was aware of all those crude and awkward and affected things, but he believed there was something, too, that went with them, and that had not been in fiction before.
(p. 160-161)

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

She did not answer this question, but said: "None of them thought just alike about it. But you'll see them" —
"No, no! Tell me what you thought of it yourself! Was there some part that seemed better than the rest?"
She hesitated. "No, I would rather not say. I oughtn't to have told you I had read it."
"You didn't like it!"
"Yes ; I did like parts of it. But I musn't say any more."
"But what parts?" he pleaded.
"You mustn't ask me. The readers' opinions " —
"I don't care for them. I care for your opinion," said Ray, perversely. "What did you mean by their being all different ? Of course, I'm absurd ! But you don't know how much depends upon this book. It isn't that it's the only book I expect ever to write ; but if it should be rejected! I've had to wait a long while already; and then to have to go peddling it around among the other publishers! Do you think that it's hopelessly bad, or could I make it over? What did you dislike in it ? Didn't you approve of the hypnotism? That was the only thing I could think of to bring about the climax. And did it seem too melodramatic ? Romeo and Juliet is melodramatic ! I hope you won't think I'm usually so nervous about my work," he went on, wondering that he should be giving himself away so freely, when he was really so reserved. " I've been a long time writing the story; and I've worked over it and worked over it, till I've quite lost the sense of it. I don't believe I can make head or tail of those opinions. That's the reason why I wanted you to tell me what you thought of it yourself."
"But I have no right to do that. It would be interfering with other people's work. It wouldn't be fair towards Mr. Brandreth," she pleaded.
"I see. I didn't see that before. And you're quite right, and I beg your pardon. Good-night!"
(p. 158-160)

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

He abhorred all sorts of social outlandishness ; he had always wished to be conformed, without and within, to the great world of smooth respectabilities. If for the present he was willing to Bohemianize a little, it was in his quality of author, and as part of a world-old tradition. To have been mixed up with a lot of howling dervishes like those people was intolerable.
(p. 126)

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

He cajoled himself by feigning interviews, now with Mr. Chapley and now with Mr. Brandreth; the publishers accepted his manuscript with transport, and offered him incredible terms. The good old man's voice shook with emotion in hailing Ray as the heir of Hawthorne; Mr. Brandreth had him up to dinner, and presented him to his wife and baby; he named the baby for them jointly. As nothing of this kind really happened, Ray's time passed rather forlornly. Without being the richer for it, he won the bets he made himself, every morning, that he should not get a letter that day from Chapley & Co., asking to see him at once, or from Mr. Brandreth hoping for the pleasure of his company upon this social occasion or that.
(p. 69-70)

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

"That is strong," said Mr. Brandreth. "That is a very powerful scene."
"Do you think so?" Ray asked. He looked flushed and flattered, but he said : "Sometimes I've been afraid it was overwrought, and improbable — weak. It's not, properly speaking, a novel, you see. It's more in the region of romance."
"Well, so much the better. I think people are getting tired of those commonplace, photographic things. They want something with a little more imagination," said Mr. Brandreth.
"The motive of my story might be called psychological," said the author. "Of course I've only given you the crudest outline of it, that doesn't do it justice " —
"Well, they say that roman psychologique is superseding the realistic novel in France. Will you allow me?"
He offered to take the manuscript, and Ray eagerly undid it, and placed it in his hands. He turned over some pages of it, and dipped into it here and there.
(p. 58)

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

Ray laughed, and said from his pleased vanity, "Mr. Brandreth has kindly consented to look at a manuscript of mine."
"Poems ?" Mr. Kane suggested.
"No, a novel," the author answered, bashfully.
"The great American one, of course?"
"We are going to see," said the young publisher, gaily.
"Well, that is good. It is pleasant to have the old literary tradition renewed in all the freshness of its prime, and to have young Genius coming up to New York from the provinces with a manuscript under its arm, just as it used to come up to London, and I've no doubt to Memphis and to Nineveh, for that matter; the indented tiles must have been a little more cumbrous than the papyrus, and were probably conveyed in an ox-cart. And when you offered him your novel, Mr. Kay, did Mr. Brandreth say that the book trade was rather dull, just now ?"
"Something of that kind," Ray admitted, witli a laugh; and Mr. Brandreth laughed too.
"I'm glad of that," said Mr. Kane. "It would not have been perfect without that. They always say that. I've no doubt the publishers of Memphis and Nineveh said it in their day. It is the publishers' way with authors. It makes the author realize the immense advantage of getting a publisher on any terms at such a disastrous moment, and he leaves the publisher to fix the terms. It is quite right. You are launched, my dear friend, and all you have to do is to let yourself go. You will probably turn out an ocean greyhound; we expect no less when we are launched. In that case, allow an old water-logged derelict to hail you, and wish you a prosperous voyage to the Happy Isles." Mr. Kane smiled blandly, and gave Ray a bow that had the quality of a blessing.
(p. 60-62)

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

"Oh, indeed!" said Mr. Brandreth, with a change in his voice, too, which Ray might well have interpreted as a tone of disappointment and injury. "Just at present, Mr. Ray, trade is rather quiet, you know." "Yes, I know," said Ray, though he thought he had been told the contrary. He felt very mean and guilty; the blood went to his head, and his face burned. "Our list for the fall trade is full, as I was saying, and we couldn't really touch anything till next spring." "Oh, I didn't suppose it would be in time for the fall trade," said Ray, and in the sudden loss of the easy terms which he had been on with the publisher, he could not urge anything further. Mr. Brandreth must have felt their estrangement too, for he said, apologetically: "Of course it's our business to examine manuscripts for publication, and I hope it's going to be our business to publish more and more of them, but an American novel by an unknown author, as long as we have the competition of these pirated English novels — If we can only get the copyright bill through, we shall be all right."
(p. 53)

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

Chapley & Co. were of the few old-fashioned publishers who had remained booksellers too, in a day when most publishers have ceased to be so. They were jobbers as well as booksellers; they took orders and made terms for public and private libraries ; they had customers all over the country who depended on them for advice and suggestion about forth-coming books, and there were many booksellers in the smaller cities who bought through them.
(p. 41) 

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

He was not wrong; for the story was fresh and new, in spite of its simple-hearted, unconscious imitations of the style and plot of other stories, because it was the soul if not the body of his first love. He thought that he had wrapped this fact impenetrably up in so many travesties and disguises that the girl herself would not have known it if she had read it; but very probably she would have known it. Any one who could read between the lines could penetrate through the innocent psychical posing and literary affectation to the truth of conditions strictly and peculiarly American, and it was this which Ray had tried to conceal with all sorts of alien splendors of make and manner. It seemed to him now, at the last moment, that if he could only uproot what was native and indigenous in it, he should make it a strong and perfect thing. He thought of writing it over again, and recoloring the heroine's hair and the hero's character, and putting the scene in a new place ; but he had already rewritten it so many times that he was sick of it; and with all his changing he had not been able to change it much. He decided to write a New York novel, and derive the hero from Midland, as soon as he could collect the material; the notion for it had already occurred to him; the hero should come on with a play; but first of all it would be necessary for Ray to get this old novel behind him, and the only way to do that was to get it before the public.
(p. 28-29)

lundi 10 octobre 2011

Patrick Tillard, DE BARTLEBY AUX ÉCRIVAINS NÉGATIFS, Montréal, Le Quartanier, 2011, 469 pages.

À partir de Herman Melville lui-même, de cet état intérieur de l'écrivain rejeté et incompris de son vivant, et de sa figure pathétique interprétée comme une réflexion sur l'écriture, il [est] possible d'évaluer les raisons d'un congé de la littérature liées précisément à son territoire. Les qualités d'un silence obstiné, la force troublante de l'immobilité, tissent des liens saisissants entre Melville et Bartleby. L'écrivain devenu en quelque sorte son personnage, Bartleby à son tour, préfigure de quelles façons les écrivains négatifs accèdent à une sorte de "vérité" intérieure dans la négation de l'écriture.
(p. 13-14)

Patrick Tillard, DE BARTLEBY AUX ÉCRIVAINS NÉGATIFS, Montréal, Le Quartanier, 2011, 469 pages.

Il persiste donc à être lui-même jusqu'au désastre éditorial et vend en huit mois à peine trois cents exemplaires de Pierre ou Les ambigüités (1852), qui peut être lu, il est vrai, comme la description d'une amitié passionnée, non loin des amours interdites et de l'inceste dans une société américaine intensément porteuse de valeurs puritaines. Son rejet et ses échecs, il les traitera à travers le prisme d'une dignité méprisante.
(p. 32)

Patrick Tillard, DE BARTLEBY AUX ÉCRIVAINS NÉGATIFS, Montréal, Le Quartanier, 2011, 469 pages.

Ce n'est donc pas un hasard si Bartleby se révèle à lui. Son histoire concerne directement Melville, elle est l'expression d'une réticence et d'une amertume, d'un regard ironique sur soi et sur l'objet même qui précipite cette ironie: l'écriture.
(p. 31)

Linda Huf, APORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983, 196 pages.

It will be obvious by now that the writers of nineteenth century women's artist novels were shrewd card players. They had to be to keep their hands in a game with men like Nathaniel Hawthorne, who held that by writing for publication a woman so diminished "the loveliness of her sex" that critics should examine her work with a "stricter... eye" and praise only the author who felt "the impulse of genius like a command of Heaven within her." In view of this widespread belief that a woman could be excused for writing books only if under the influence of the divine affatus, it becomes clear why Harriet Beecher Stowe insisted that "God wrote [Uncle Tom's Cabin]." Or why Susan Warner gave out that she wrote the best-selling Wide, Wide World (1860) "upon her knees." Or, indeed, why Elizabeth Stuart Phelps tols her readers with her characteristic earnestness that "The angel said unto me 'Write!' and I wrote."
(p. 53)

Linda Huf, APORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983, 196 pages.

One the other hand, a few critics praised Fanny Fern just because she had diregarded her womanly discretion. One of them was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who, after shuddering at other "ink-stained Amazons" whose petticoats waved too "triumphantly over all the field" of popular literature, defende Fanny for daring to be true to herself as a woman. In a letter to his editor, he exempted the scrappy author of the scurrilous Ruth Hall from his recent denouncement of the "d----d mob of scribbling women" whose soppt stories were outselling his own.
(p. 18-19)

Linda Huf, APORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983, 196 pages.

The most obvious way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in the character of its protagonist. Whereas the artist hero, as Beebe has shown, inclines to be passive, sensitive and shy (that is, to have conventionally "feminine" traits), the artist heroine tends to be stalwart, spirited, and fearless (or, to have traditionally "masculine" attributes). Accordingly, artist heroes by men are slight in build, clumsy in sports, reluctant in fights, inept in mathematics, timid in love, and guilt-ridden in sex; while artist heroines by women are athletic in build, skilled in sports, unshrinking in fights, able in mathematics, plucky in love, and daring in their sexual adventures.
[...]
The second way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in its protagonist's ruling conflict. As Beebe has shown, the artist hero is a divided self - unhappily split between his sensual longings, which immerse him in life, and his spiritual aspirations, by which he would transcend life in art. As the following pages will show, the artist heroine is that and more. She is torn not only between life ant art but, more specifically, between her role as a woman, demanding selfless devotion to others, and her aspirations as an artist, requiring exclusive commitment to work. Unlike the artist hero she must choose between her sexuality and her profession, between womanhood and her work.
[...]
The third characteristic of the woman's artist novel which distinguishes it from the man's is that it pits its protagonist against a sexually conventional foil. This frivolous friend, or enemy, who embodies excessive devotion to the female role, serves to make the aspiring artist look, not unwomanly, but herois by contrast.
[...]
The fourth way in which the woman's artist novel differs from the man's is in its want of a muse. Writers of women's Künstlerromane do not create male muses as their male counterparts create female muses. They do not idealize men as men idealize women - a fact which is unremarkable if we consider the fundamental truth in the truism that no man is a hero to his valet. In the woman's portrait-of-the-author novel, the heroine does not gos to Man in order to create. To the woman artist in fiction, men are not muses or models who guide or lift her upward and onward. Rather they are despots or dunces who drag her down.
[...]
The fifth and final characteristic which sets the woman's artist novel apart from the man's is its radicalism. The woman's Künstlerroman belies Louis Auchincloss's comfortable thesis in Pioneers and Caretakers that creative "women... have always been the true conservatives... They never destroy; they never want the clean-sweep." The woman's artist novel calls for the smashing of the man-forged manacles on her sex. While the artist hero battles only the bourgeois and philistine (as Beebe has shown), the artist heroine combats a much more insidious banality. While the artist hero is only up against the banker and broker, the artist heroine is up against the wall. She challenges not only the Babbitt and boor, but also the biggot and bully - including the bone of her bones and flesh of her flesh, the very men she loves and who purport to love her.
(p. 4-11)

Linda Huf, APORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG WOMAN, New York, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983, 196 pages.

Unlike men, women have only rarely written artist novels; that is, autobiographical novels depicting their struggles to become creative artists - to become, as the Romantics had it, as gods. Jane Austen, the Brontës, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Katherine Anne Porter, and Flannery O'Connor never wrote a portrait-of-the-author novel.
[...]
By contrast, male equivalents of A Portrait of the Artist abound throughout European and American literature. Almost every important male writer of our time has portrayed his youthful self in fiction, usually in his first novel. In America alone, men who have written artist novels include Herman Melville (Pierre), Henry James (Roderick Hudson), Jack London (Martin Eden), Sherwood Anderson (Winesburg, Ohio), F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise), Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel), Theodore Dreiser (The "Genius"), James T. Farrell (My Days of Anger), and William Styron (Sophie's Choice).
(p. 1-2)

mardi 4 octobre 2011

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

"Here, then, is the untimely, timely end; - Life's last chapter well stitched into the middle! Nor book, nor author of the book, hath any sequel, though each hath its last lettering! - It is ambiguous still."
(p. 418)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

"SIR: - You are a swindler. Upon the pretense of writing a popular novel for us, you have been receiving cash advances from us, while passing through our press the sheets of a blasphemous rhapsody, filched from the vile Atheists, Lucian and Voltaire. Our great press of publication has hitherto prevented our slightest inspection of our reader's proofs of your book. Send not another sheet to us. Our bill for printing thus far, and also for our cash advances, swindled out of us by you, is now in the hands of our lawyer, who is instructed to proceed with instant rigor.
(Signed) STEEL, FLINT & ASBESTOS."
(p. 414)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

For not only was it the signal misery of Pierre, to be invisibly - though but accidentaly - goaded, in the hour of mental immaturity, to the attempt at a mature work, - a circumstance sufficiently lamentable in itself; but also, in the hour of his clamorous pennilessness, he was additionally goaded into an enterprise long and protracted in the execution, and of all things least calculated for pecuniary profit in the end. How these things were so, whence they originated, might be thoroughly and very beneficially explained; but space and time here forbid.
(p. 392)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

Not so; that which now absorbs the time and the life of Pierre, is not the book, but the primitive elementalizing of the strange stuff, which in the act of attempting that book, has upheaved and upgushed in his soul. Two books are being writ; of which the world shall only see one, and that the bungled one. The larger book, and the infinitely better, is for Pierre's own privete shelf. That it is, whose unfatomable cravings drink his blood; the other only demands his ink. But circumstances have so decreed, that the one can not be composed on the paper, but only as the other is writ down in his soul. And the one of the soul is elephantinely sluggish, and will not budget at a breath. Thus Pierre is fastened on by two leeches; - how then can the life of Pierre last? Lo! he is fitting himself for the highest life, by thinning his blood and collapsing his heart. he is learning how to live, by rehearsing the part of death.
(p. 355)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

Some hours pass. Let us peep over the shoulder of Pierre, and see what it is he is writing there, in that most melancoly closet. Here, topping the reeking pile by his side, is the last sheet from his hand, the frenzied ink not yet entirely dry. It is much to our purpose; for in this sheet, he seems to have directly plagiarized from his own experiences, to fill out the mood of his apparent author-hero, Vivia [...]
(p. 352)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

[...] renoucing all his foregone self, Pierre was now engaged in a comprehensive compacted work, to whose speedily completion two tremendous motives unitedly impelled; - the burning desire to deliver what he thought to be new, or at least miserably neglected Truth to the world; and the prospective menace of being absolutely penniless, unless by the sale of his book, he could realize money.
(p. 329)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

For even at that early time in his authorial life, Pierre, however vain of his fame, was not at all proud of his paper. Not only did he make alumettes of his sonnets when published, but was very careless about his discarded manuscripts; they were to be found all around the house; gave a great deal of trouble to the housemaids in sweeping; went for kindlings to the fires; and were forever flitting out of the windows, and under the door-sills, into the faces of people passing the manorial mansion. In this reckless, indifferent way of his, Pierre himself was a sort of publisher. It is true his more familiar admirers often earnestly remonstrated with him, against this irreverence to the primitive vestments of his immortal productions; saying, that whatever had once felt the nib of his mighty pen, was thenceforth sacred as the lips which had but once saluted the great toe of the Pope.
(p. 307)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

The mecanic, the day-laborer, has but one way to live; his body must provide for his body. But not only could Pierre in some sort, do that; he could do the other; and letting his body stay lazily at home, send off his soul to labor, and his soul would come faithfully back and pay his body her wages. So, some unprofessional gentlemen of the aristocratic South, who happen to own slaves, give those slaves liberty to go and seek work, and every night return with their wages, which constitute those idle gentlemen's income.
(p. 304)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

Pierre was not only very unarchitectural at that time, but Pierre was very young indeed at that time. And it is often to be observed , that as in digging for precious metals in the mines, much early rubbish has first to be troublesomely handled and thrown out; so, in digging in one's soul for the fine gold of genius, much dullness and common-place is first brought to light.
(p. 300)

Herman Melville, PIERRE; OR THE AMBIGUITIES, dans PIERRE, ISRAEL POTTER, THE CONFIDENCE-MAN, TALES & BILLY BUDD, New York, Library of America, 1984, 1478 pages.

Inasmuch as by various intimations much more than ordinary natural genius has been imputed to Pierre, it may have seemed an inconsistency, that only the merest magazine papers should have been thus far the sole productions of his mind. Nor need it be added, that, in the soberest earnest, those papers contained nothing uncommon; indeed - entirely now to drop all irony, if hitherto any thing like that has been indulged in - those fugitive things of Master Pierre's were the veriest common-place.
(p. 300)

Trudy Bolter, FIGURES DE L'ÉCRIVAIN DANS LE CINÉMA AMÉRICAIN, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2001, 298 pages.

L'élasticité et l'ouverture des noms "livre" et "écrivain" et du verbe "écrire" sont en partie dues au fait qu'en Amérique, où les récompenses accordées aux écrivains à succès sont considérables, l'écriture est considérée comme un art que l'on peut apprendre. Ainsi apparaissent dans la nébuleuse d'attitudes et d'associations centrée sur l'écrivain, des notions qui renvoient à l'éthique du travail et à l'idéal du self-made man. L'écriture, à plus forte raison en tant que technique assimilable, devient un domaine dans lequel on peut prouver sa vaillance, sa fibre, une aire où peut s'obtenir une réussite comparable à toutes les autres réussites, la récompense de l'application et du caractère. L'existence à travers l'Amérique entière d'écoles, de cours, d'ateliers et de "writer's colonies" (des centres de séjours financés par des mécènes dans l'espoir d'améliorer la littérature américaine en bonifiant les conditions de vie des auteurs), suggère que l'art littéraire n'y est pas considéré comme une histoire d'inspiration divine et d'élection aléatoire par le Destin, mais en termes d'apprentissage, de travail et de perfectionnement, comme un artisanat.
(p. 30)

samedi 1 octobre 2011

Elaine Showalter, A JURY OF HER PEERS, Londres, Virago Press, 2009, 586 pages.

In short, Jo is becoming a professional writer of genre fiction, and using the techniques all serious writers use to understand human experience; but even for a little woman who would be womanly, such secondhand efforts are risky and taboo, while the firsthand "limited experience" available to her as a woman excludes her from attempting more than domestic subjects. Jo's uneasiness is reinforced by the reaction of her fatherly suitor, Professor Bhaer, who tells her that he does not like to see "good young girls" reading such stories, much less writing them, and makes her feel as if "the words 'Weekly Volcano' were printed in large type on her forehead." In Bhaer's eyes, she is almost as sinful as Hester Prynne; and instead of trying to expand her limited experience or challenging society's restrictions on good girls, Jo burns her manuscripts. By the novel's end, she has given up, or at least postponed, her dream of becoming a great author in exchange for marriage and motherhood, and regards the life she had once desired as "selfish, lonely, and cold."
(p. 143)