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Showing posts from November, 2019

To publish posthumously and squeeze a bit more money for the estate of the writer and his publisher (even though the work might be crap) or not? Decisions, decisions, though as it turned out not a difficult one for Charles Scribner’s Sons, of New York, publishers to the gentry

Below are around 400 words from Joan Didion’s piece — the opening — on the practice of publishing Hemingway’s work posthumously. It appeared in the November 9, 1998, issue of the New Yorker. NB I had never heard of Joan Didion, either, but I gather she is — she is now 85 — a journalist, essayist and writer who is well-known in the United States.

I should preface this by saying — and this is relevant — that literary criticism is and cannot be a science. In fact, that is true of all art criticism. Well, that’s obvious, you might counter, of course it isn’t, how can it be? But hang on: even those who agree with me often inadvertently behave as if it were a science; or if not exactly ‘a science’, a discipline akin to a science which commands — rightly, many would insist — the respect we pay to science; and that just as the various sciences have their acknowledged experts who know more than you and I about their field, so criticism has folk akin to such experts who know more about their fi…