Monday, 25 June 2012

On modesty

The job of writers, it seems now to be accepted, includes promoting themselves and their wonderfulness on Facebook and blogs and in all other possible ways. No: the job of a writer is simply to write.

On the day in February when I took round to Dai Vaughan the printed copies of Sister of the artist, he suggested I call by his local bookshop, where he’d been a regular customer over a long time and which might take a couple of copies for the shop. I went there and mentioned his name and they were clearly fond of him. I showed the book. ‘He’s a writer?’ They hadn’t known.

From Tony Lurcock’s introduction to his book ‘Not So Barren or Uncultivated’: British Travellers in Finland 1760–1830, published by CBe in 2010: ‘It is by no means necessary to read the introduction to enjoy the contents of the book, nor need the book be read chronologically, in full, or indeed at all.’

Modesty is not the same as reticence, can still partake of a flourish. Tony Lurcock pointed me to this, from a travel book published in 1848: ‘In thus presenting to you what you are likely to meet with on the road, this unpretending volume may afford some little guidance, and therefore to you, indulgent reader, I dedicate it. Conscious that brighter and more lasting constellations dazzle around with superior radiance, I nevertheless venture to launch it – like some tiny fire-balloon, into the wide world of starry night, feeling assured that the blast of criticism would be its destruction; but, if favoured with approving zephyrs, it may be wafted on for a brief season, affording some glimmer of light to the passing traveller on his way.’

1 comment:

Mase Escasi said...

I accept your assertion about the job of the writer. But if not the writers' job to promote themselves, then whose? Failure is beautiful but it doesn't shift the books. There are boxes & boxes of them out there. Hopefully I'll come across one of Tony Lurcock's in one of them someday.