Monday, March 10, 2008

Alexander Woolcott Gibbs on the judgement of posterity

From a New Yorker comment by Alexander Woolcott Gibbs , February 12, 1949.

"Reading John Dickson Carr's biography of Conan Doyle, we learned that Doyle had a very low opinion of Sherlock Holmes... It occurred to us that a great many creative artists have been similarly afflicted, ranging all the way from R.L. Stevenson to Al Capp... We have even known the same indignation ourself. The only story we ever wrote that attracted any considerable attention struck us as a competently executed trick; the piece we liked most, a sad story of our lost youth was admired only by a man now confined in an institution for the hopelessly insane. The writer (or painter or musician) who suffers from what he is bound to consider the degraded taste of his time is apt to comfort himself with the idea that posterity will correct all such errors. The weight of the evidence, however, is against him. Posterity, if she doesn't ignore him altogether is far more likely to confirm and even emphasize the vulgar judgment of his contemporaries. The most discouraging thought of all is that the silly bitch will probably be right."

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