Thursday, October 12, 2006

Blurb blurb     [commentative epigram]

If you can read this book and not shriek with delight   your soul is dead
if you can stroll this street amid droll moonlight   your wit is living
the soul of the soul is consoled   in its lonesome cowboy head
if the sole of the foot is defeated yet   the toe is forgiving

toward the end of my days I composed a blurb   for my epitaph
if they publish my poetry posthumously   will they use it?
it would fit I suppose not unsuitably   in an epigraph
"his every note was banal except   if you blues it"

“The trouble is that the novel is being shouted out of existence. Question any thinking person as to why he ‘never reads novels’, and you will usually find that, at bottom, it is because of the disgusting tripe that is written by the blurb-reviewers. There is no need to multiply examples. Here is just one specimen, from last week’s Sunday Times: ‘If you can read this book and not shriek with delight, your soul is dead.’ That or something like it is now being written about every novel published, as you can see by studying the quotes on the blurbs. For anyone who takes the Sunday Times seriously, life must be one long struggle to catch up. Novels are being shot at you at the rate of fifteen a day, and every one of them an unforgettable masterpiece which you imperil your soul by missing. It must make it so difficult to choose a book at the library, and you must feel so guilty when you fail to shriek with delight. Actually, however, no one who matters is deceived by this kind of thing, and the contempt into which novel reviewing has fallen is extended to novels themselves. When all novels are thrust upon you as words of genius, it is quite natural to assume that all of them are tripe.”

    -- George Orwell
as quoted by Ian Keennan (in comment no. 55 here) on Silliman's blog


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