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Punch, Or The London Charivari, Volume 102, January 30, 1892   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 102.

January 30, 1892.

CONFESSIONS OF A DUFFER.

III. THE LITERARY DUFFER.

[Illustration: "I have worn a cloak and a Tyrolese hat, and attitudinised in the Picture galleries."]

Why I am not a success in literature it is difficult for me to tell; indeed, I would give a good deal to anyone who would explain the reason. The Publishers, and Editors, and Literary Men decline to tell me why they do not want my contributions. I am sure I have done all that I can to succeed. When my Novel, Geoffrey's Cousin , comes back from the Row, I do not lose heart I pack it up, and send it off again to the Square, and so, I may say, it goes the round. The very manuscript attests the trouble I have taken. Parts of it are written in my own hand, more in that of my housemaid, to whom I have dictated passages; a good deal is in the hand of my wife. There are sentences which I have written a dozen times, on the margins, with lines leading up to them in red ink. The story is written on paper of all sorts and sizes, and bits of paper are pasted on, here and there, containing revised versions of incidents and dialogue. The whole packet is now far from clean, and has a business like and travelled air about it, which should command respect. I always accompany it with a polite letter, expressing my willingness to cut it down, or expand it, or change the conclusion. Nobody can say that I am proud. But it always comes back from the Publishers and Editors, without any explanation as to why it will not do. This is what I resent as particularly hard. The Publishers decline to tell me what their Readers have really said about it. I have forwarded Geoffrey's Cousin to at least five or six notorious authors, with a letter, which runs thus:

"DEAR SIR, You will be surprised at receiving a letter from a total stranger, but your well known goodness of heart must plead my excuse. I am aware that your time is much occupied, but I am certain that you will spare enough of that valuable commodity to glance through the accompanying MS. Novel, and give me your frank opinion of it. Does it stand in need of any alterations, and, if so, what? Would you mind having it published under your own name , receiving one third of the profits? A speedy answer will greatly oblige."

Would you believe it, Mr. Punch , not one of these over rated and overpaid men has ever given me any advice at all? Most of them simply send back my parcel with no reply. One, however, wrote to say that he received at least six such packets every week, and that his engagements made it impossible for him to act as a guide, counsellor, and friend to the amateurs of all England. He added that, if I published the Novel at my own expense, the remarks of the public critics would doubtless prove most valuable and salutary.

This decided me; I did publish, at my own expense, with Messrs. SAUL, SAMUEL, MOSS & CO. I had to pay down £150, then £35 for advertisements, then £70 for Publisher's Commission. Other expenses fell grievously on me, as I sent round printed postcards to everyone whose name is in the Red Book, asking them to ask for Geoffrey's Cousin at the Libraries. I also despatched six copies, with six anonymous letters, to Mr. GLADSTONE, signing them, "A Literary Constituent," "A Wavering Anabaptist," and so forth, but, extraordinary to relate, I have received no answer, and no notice has been taken of my disinterested presents. The reviews were of the most meagre and scornful description. Messrs. SAUL, SAMUEL, Moss & Co. have just written to me, begging me to remove the "remainder" of my book, and charging £23 15s. 6d. for warehouse expenses. Yet, when I read Geoffrey's Cousin , I fail to see that it falls, in any way, beneath the general run of novels. I enclose a marked copy, and solicit your earnest attention for the passage in which Geoffrey's Cousin blights his hopes for ever. The story, Sir, is one of controversy, and is suited to this time... Continue reading book >>


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