Wednesday, April 08, 2009

So Do You Suppose Someone Will Write A Novel About J.K. Rowling Sometime In The Twenty-second Century?

I finished reading The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl last night. Pearl writes historical mysteries in which real historical figures appear--fictionally. In The Last Dickens he creates a mystery around the ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, since its author, Charles Dickens, died before finishing it.

Dickens appears in the book during his final tour of the United States. According to the author's notes, a great deal of the detail included in the novel is historically accurate, including a stalker. Pearl describes lines for tickets, speculators (what we'd call scalpers), and "bookaneers," what might be described as mercenaries hired by publishers to steal manuscripts from England as they arrive in the United States by ship and transcribe public readings of authors' unpublished works. (I couldn't "bookaneer" on-line being used in that way.) Copyright laws appear to have been a bit iffy back then.

I guess when people talk about how publishing used to be a profession for gentlemen, they don't mean during the nineteenth century.

Even though Dickens died one hundred and thirty-eight years ago, I don't see how someone today can read about the frenzy around his American tour without thinking of J.K. Rowling. In 2145 will people still be talking about her appearance at Carnegie Hall? Will someone living in 2169 write a novel about a "lost" Harry Potter?

Have any writers between Dickens and Rowling received the kind of acclaim they did?

Today's Training Report: I know I said I finished that long bio yesterday, but, really, I finished it today. And I did just one story for the 365 Story Project.

2 comments:

Jeannine said...

Dickens and Rowling -- that's interesting. My husband just finished Drood, which I want to read except it's 770 pages, Dickens told through the pov of Wilkie Collins and my husband says enjoyably snarky author talk.

I don't think copyright laws existed then between continents; I don't think Hawthorne ever got a cent for Scarlet Letter and others published in England. I believe smart businesswoman Louisa Alcott took heed and got a good lawyer before her work went overseas. Jeannine Atkins

gail said...

Ah, Louisa. She may have been the only Transcendentalist with a grasp of the real world.