Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Brooding

Ever heard of a writer named Thomas Kyd? How about John Fletcher or Francis Beaumont? Philip Massinger? All were contemporaries of William Shakespeare.

Okay, that was a cheap stunt. Let's be more reasonable. Surely you'll recognize some of these titles from the New York Times Best Sellers list: "Forever Amber", "The Black Rose", "Earth and High Heaven", "Immortal Wife", "The Robe". Perhaps not? They were the hot sellers in 1945.

Go into a used bookstore and scan the titles. Really scan them. You'll recognize some of the names there, but probably not the majority. Go the library. Run a finger along the spines. Be honest. Many if not most are strangers to the average person.

What's the point? Immortality is a bitch. Culture like time is transient. Importance is impermanent. Now turn off the tv and go play.

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Well thanks for bringing me down there, Stewart. But hey, I've read two of those books from 1945. I think I will go play, though.

Sidney said...

Many of the used bookshops in my area have transitioned. They have mostly new titles now. I miss the days of being able to go into used book shops and finding forgotten gems from the sixties at least if not the fifties. Those are collector's purchases now, and time marches on.

SQT said...

I bet J.K. Rowling will be known 100 years from now. I don't know if that's good or bad...

Donnetta Lee said...

Hi, Stewart! Oh, my favorite is The Robe. Love, love, love it! Turn off the TV? I was just this moment thinking I needed to do that! Thanks for the reminder. Play? Well, the house needs dusting, dontchaknow. But think I'll write a few lines first!
Donnetta

Lana Gramlich said...

That last sentence is a total gem.

William Jones said...

Good point, Stewart. And think of all those who didn't make it to the used bookstore shelf, and those that didn't make it through the publisher, all of those ideas and dreams cut short - sometimes by mere whim. Millions of pages, with countless authors worrying over words, words that are lost . . . forever.

But computers will save all of that. Turn your iPod into a storage device and lock it away for the future. :)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Charles, depression is good for the soul. Artists suffer. Sid, I'm with you, used books stores used to be such adventures. There's one in the Detroit area that is astounding; it's called King Book Store and it is a two story treasure trove. SQT, I think you're correct. Look at Frank Baum. Who????

Donneta, Lana turning off the TV is easy, but I tend to stare at the blank screen for a long time.

William...words lost forever. Maybe I'll go now and listen to mayflies.

Travis said...

We have a place called Half Priced Books that is about 7 doors down from Barnes & Noble. I patronize both, and it always seems like the HPB store is more crowded.

But maybe that's just because it's smaller and the books are cheaper.

I'll go play as soon as it stops raining and my back stops hurting. Deal?

Sphinx Ink said...

Your point is well-made. And, as Lana says, your last sentence is a gem.

On the other hand, I know of all those writers except Philip Massinger--but then I was an English major, back in the Dark Ages. And I have read several of the books you listed. FOREVER AMBER, THE BLACK ROSE, and THE ROBE all were on my parents' bookshelves and I scarfed them down when I was barely in my teens. Mighty good reading, too. Had they not been available in my home, however, I doubt I would have come across them, although the writers of all three (Kathleen Winsor, Thomas Costain, and Lloyd Douglas) were bestselling authors for decades.

Your point is too true--thousands, nay millions of books have been written that are now completely forgotten. Fame is fleeting.

Bernita said...

Um..."I've read at least two of those as well...Um.