Friday, February 01, 2013

The Man Without Qualities and you, plus ill-matched book covers

"Ulrich retorted:`A particularly fine head on a man usually means that he's stupid ... in literature, talents not much above average are usually regarded by their contemporaries as geniuses.'"
Whom, authors or otherwise, does that remind you of?

"Ulrich, thinking he was the first to have realized that the man under the window was one of those sick people who through the abnormality of their sex lives attract the lively curiosity of the sexually normal..."
What scandals or crime novels does that remind you of? And how many schillings would you care to bet that Musil smiled when he wrote that passage?
 *
Odd Musil cover note: One edition of The Man Without Qualities bears reproductions of paintings by the Austrian Expressionist painter Egon Schiele — odd because the novel as well as commentaries to Musil's essays make it clear that Musil was wary at best of the Expressionists' tempestuous emotions. What covers have you thought particularly ill-matched to their books?

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

Labels: , ,

13 Comments:

Blogger seana graham said...

I like the line about contemporary talents. I don't think we have any idea who will stand the test of time. I think we are likely to be more impressed with our contempories than we maybe should be because they have enlightened us a little about the current moment, which we tend to understand better than anything larger or older.

Not that there isn't a good deal of pleasure to be gained from reading those with a little above average talent. It's those with a little below average talent that I find myself wondering how they got published, read and praised.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I think we may be more impressed than we should be with our contemporaries because we want to be onto the next big thing and because, at least in the media, there is more emphasis on writing about what is being talked about than about what is good.

My feeling in this matter may be stronger than they would otherwise be because I write about the field occupied by Stieg Larsson. Remember him?

February 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Who's that, now?

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Next stage: What ever happened to Stieg Larsson?

February 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

I will tell you that already, the sale of his books have dropped off precipitously.

And yes, being 'in on' something is a big factor in book sales.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A bigger factor with Larsson than with other big sellers? Hard for ne to judge, since comparable recent phenomena, such as Fifty Shades of Gray and Harry Potter, were out of my field.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Sad to say, but I think the fact that he isn't around to write any more sequels probably limited the time period of the phenomenon. Although the Fifty Shades of Grey is already in decline. Until there's a movie, that is.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

As with my guess about the faster spread of slang terms thanks to mass media, I wonder if today's publishing phenomena hit faster and sell more books than their predecessors because word spreads about them faster.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You'll know better than I that these phenomena can have a weird after life in the form of parabooks: the collections of Larsson's e-mails, books by, I think, his girlfriend and least one other person who knew him, and so on.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger seana graham said...

Right. These didn't sell very well here, though.

February 02, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder if books like that sell anywhere: The Fifty Shades of Gray Cookbook, Lisbeth Salander's Grooming Tips and Motorcycle Repair, et al.

February 02, 2013  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

the sale of his books have dropped off precipitously

Anybody who frequents used book sales at public libraries, as I do, can probably testify to the piles upon piles of can't-give-'em-away Larsson hardbacks clogging the shelves.

Re 50 Shades of Grey/Gray... There is currently a successful filly running here in Southern California with the amusing name of Fiftyshadesofhay. Since I can't find my cheat-sheet that allows me to provide a link to a site in text format, you can read about her here:
http://www.drf.com/news/santa-anita-fiftyshadesofhay-much-best-santa-ysabel

February 04, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm sure, too, that someone, somewhere, has come up with Fifty Shades of Gay.

February 04, 2013  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home