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Epitaphs for the Novel

22 May 2014

From The Millions:

Who would not sing for Lycidas?” asks Milton in his famous elegy. And who, indeed, would not sing for the Novel, which has once again been declared dead? 

Epitaphs for the Novel

In Everlasting Memory of The Novel (1605 – 2014)

Wandering knight, Shipwreck survivor, Whale hunter, Homebody

. . . .

In Remembrance of The Novel (d. 2014)

Who after supplanting the Epic

Enduring that “damned mob of scribbling women”

And surviving Finnegans Wake

Finally succumbed to the Internet


The Novel (RIP)

“I couldn’t relate to you either.”

Link to the rest at The Millions

Books in General

10 Comments to “Epitaphs for the Novel”

  1. HAHHA!

    I love this.

  2. Mark Twain famously said “the report of my death was an exaggeration”. In this case, the novel can reply to Will Self, “Sir, you have mistaken your career for my well-being”.

  3. Enduring that “damned mob of scribbling women”

    Am I supposed to react well to this or is it really a compliment and I don’t realize it?

    • Suburbanbanshee

      It’s a literary quote.

      Nathaniel Hawthorne, writing from Britain to his publisher in 1855:

      “America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash – and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of the ‘Lamplighter,’ and other books neither better nor worse?–worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by the 100,000.”

      (So yeah, it’s a nasty dig against indy writers and romances, albeit from a bit further back in time.)

      • So he meant it but let Nathaniel Hawthorne take the heat.
        Back to my scribbling.

        • Suburbanbanshee

          Btw, in case people are interested, via Wikipedia —

          The Lamplighter was Maria Susanna Cummins’s first novel and was an immediate bestseller, selling 20,000 copies in twenty days. The work sold 40,000 in eight weeks, and within five months it had sold 65,000. At the time it was second in sales only to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It sold over 100,000 copies in Britain and was translated into multiple different languages.

          It wasn’t a romance per se; it was the story of a female orphan rescued from an evil guardian and raised by a lamplighter named Trueman, and how she grew up and found happiness in marriage with a friend. So sort of like Mill on the Floss, but happier; or A Little Princess, but more plebeian and continuing into adulthood.

          The text’s available online, and you can also get it as a PD audiobook from Librivox.

  4. Suburbanbanshee

    There are probably more people reading, writing, buying, and selling novels now than at any point in human history. Per capita numbers I don’t know, obviously, and maybe per capita data, in isolated areas and with anecdotal people, is more depressing. But we seem to have even more new novels around than the Victorians, and they are being put out in many more languages and countries.

  5. Not much has changed. Clever!

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