Tuesday, 15 March 2011

rejection letters

Marbury's got a couple of great rejection letters on his blog at the moment. I read this in The White Monkey, book four of The Forsyte Saga yesterday:
Oh! and while we’re about it — I’ve got to refuse Harold Master’s new book. It’s a mistake, but they won’t have it.”

“Why not, Mr. Mont? ‘The Sobbing Turtle’ was such a success!”

“Well, in this new thing Master’s got hold of an idea which absolutely forces him to say something. Winter says those who hailed ‘The Sobbing Turtle’ as such a work of art, are certain to be down on this for that; and Mr. Danby calls the book an outrage on human nature. So there’s nothing for it. Let’s have a shot:

“‘MY DEAR MASTER,— In the exhilaration of your subject it has obviously not occurred to you that you’ve bust up the show. In ‘The Sobbing Turtle’ you were absolutely in tune with half the orchestra, and that — er — the noisiest half. You were charmingly archaic, and securely cold-blooded. But now, what have you gone and done? Taken the last Marquesan islander for your hero and put him down in London town! The thing’s a searching satire, a real criticism of life. I’m sure you didn’t mean to be contemporary, or want to burrow into reality; but your subject has run off with you. Cold acid and cold blood are very different things, you know, to say nothing of your having had to drop the archaic. Personally, of course, I think this new thing miles better than ‘The Sobbing Turtle,’ which was a nice little affair, but nothing to make a song about. But I’m not the public, and I’m not the critics. The young and thin will be aggrieved by your lack of modernity, they’ll say you’re moralising; the old and fat will call you bitter and destructive; and the ordinary public will take your Marquesan seriously, and resent your making him superior to themselves. The prospects, you see, are not gaudy. How d’you think we’re going to ‘get away’ with such a book? Well, we’re not! Such is the fiat of the firm. I don’t agree with it. I’d publish it tomorrow; but needs must when Danby and Winter drive. So, with every personal regret, I return what is really a masterpiece.

“‘Always yours,


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