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Yep, you both came up with the Engdahl quote at the same time.

Just one reaction to what you say here, Magnifico: I don't think Europe is significantly freer from the need to be commercially viable. Publishing works pretty much as it does in the States. And respect for authors is no greater in the reading public here than it is in the States.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Oct 2nd, 2008 at 04:38:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Point taken. And, I'm not suggesting just because a literary work is commercially viable it is bad, nor do I believe that just because a piece is unsellable, it therefore then must be good.

What I do believe is what is commercially viable in Europe is very different from what is commercially viable in the U.S. I'm more than a decade-removed from academic literary circles, but my hunch is that in Europe, writing that has literary value may be more likely to have commercial value too.

by Magnifico on Thu Oct 2nd, 2008 at 04:55:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, no, I think there's a distinct respect paid in America to authors of serious intent (I'm not getting into literary value judgements here). And they can be commercially successful: (again without literary judgement), Philip Roth springs to mind. Or, just as serious in intent but less patently "literary", more mainstream and successfully so, Jane Smiley or Anne Tyler.

I don't think the situation is significantly better in Europe. There's more lip service paid, perhaps; publishers work the vein of the "literary" category, for which there's a niche market. This means a fair amount of discovering seventeen-year-old female sex-maniac geniuses, brilliant young dandies, astounding first novels; and, to a great extent, authors stringing along from one book to the next on dwindling incomes precisely because they're not "commercially viable" ie the TV promotion circuit doesn't want them, and there's no subsidiary rights action (movie rights in particular) around their works.

Is there really a greater market here for what has genuine literary value? I'm not sure. The World of Books™ has consolidated and gone transatlantic since the 1980s, and many of the same criteria are applied.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Oct 3rd, 2008 at 04:07:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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