The Man of Letters as a Man of Business eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 39 pages of information about The Man of Letters as a Man of Business.
if we may judge from the quality of the literature they get, are more refined than the book readers in our community; and their taste has no doubt been cultivated by that of the disciplined and experienced editors.  So far as I have known these, they are men of aesthetic conscience and of generous sympathy.  They have their preferences in the different kinds, and they have their theory of what kind will be most acceptable to their readers; but they exercise their selective function with the wish to give them the best things they can.  I do not know one of them—­and it has been, my good fortune to know them nearly all—­who would print a wholly inferior thing for the sake of an inferior class of readers, though they may sometimes decline a good thing because for one reason or another, they believe it would not be liked.  Still, even this does not often happen; they would rather chance the good thing they doubted of than underrate their readers’ judgment.

The young author who wins recognition in a first-class magazine has achieved a double success, first, with the editor, and then with the best reading public.  Many factitious and fallacious literary reputations have been made through books, but very few have been made through the magazines, which are not only the best means of living, but of outliving, with the author; they are both bread and fame to him.  If I insist a little upon the high office which this modern form of publication fulfils in the literary world, it is because I am impatient of the antiquated and ignorant prejudice which classes the magazines as ephemeral.  They are ephemeral in form, but in substance they are not ephemeral, and what is best in them awaits its resurrection in the book, which, as the first form, is so often a lasting death.  An interesting proof of the value of the magazine to literature is the fact that a good novel will often have wider acceptance as a book from having been a magazine serial.

V.

Under the ‘regime’ of the great literary periodicals the prosperity of literary men would be much greater than it actually is if the magazines were altogether literary.  But they are not, and this is one reason why literature is still the hungriest of the professions.  Two-thirds of the magazines are made up of material which, however excellent, is without literary quality.  Very probably this is because even the highest class of readers, who are the magazine readers, have small love of pure literature, which seems to have been growing less and less in all classes.  I say seems, because there are really no means of ascertaining the fact, and it may be that the editors are mistaken in making their periodicals two-thirds popular science, politics, economics, and the timely topics which I will call contemporanics.  But, however that may be, their efforts in this direction have narrowed the field of literary industry, and darkened the hope of literary prosperity kindled by

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The Man of Letters as a Man of Business from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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