Out of print classics
META NAME="Forgotten Classics" CONTENT="neglected novels forgotten authors."
'Reading neglected writers so you don't have to' A Time Out column and a blog for books that seem to be undeservedly forgotten, from John Galsworthy to Rose Macaulay, from Amos Tutuola to DH Lawrence, from W. Somerset Maugham to Fanny Burney. What books do you think we should revive? If you love a writer who has lapsed in popularity please let me know! Are my choices controversial?
I've been worrying that the blog might be re-fostering a sense of the canon; ie. the idea of 'classics' is pretty dubious, politically, and the majority of writers are dead, middle-class, european white men. I guess the point is more that writers should be 'underread', rather than 'underrated'. Anyways, here are a few suggestions of anti-/ non- canonical writers or novels to supplement things:
Persephone books is a brilliant shop/ website/ publishing house dedicated to reprinting forgotten 20th century classics (mainly by women). They publish writers from Noel Streatfield to Eleanor Graham. The full list of their publications is at:
I'm now casting around for books for the June column. Favourites so far are:
This month's column in Timeout (mid-May) is going to be on Maugham's Cakes and Ale (1930), a book which itself muses on the price of literary fame, the vicissitudes of being a novelist and what makes for a good writer. Maugham, as the various quotes already blogged demonstrate, muses on ideas of quality and longevity. His novelist characters (Alroy Kea, the narrator, and Edward Driffield) represent three very different types: successful (but cheerfully middling in quality); cynical and withdrawn; and eminent. Their various qualities give the lie to the fact of transcendent and uncontextualised quality - they are jobbing writers, self-conscious about their profession and in many ways mocking those (critics, readers, the reader of the novel itself) who would see more in their novels than is there.
another Maugham quote on 'classic' novels and the afterlife of the writer:
from W. Somerset Maugham, Cakes and Ale (1930), probably subject of my first monthly Time Out column: