Thursday, 17 April 2008
Sartre and the Season of Literary Parties
To Random House HQ in London for the launch of a new book about the partnership of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, A Dangerous Liaison, written by Carole Seymour-Jones. This was my second literary bash in one week and one's sense that the world is smaller than one thought was reinforced by the reappearance last night of some well-known faces from Tuesday (eg Margaret Drabble and Michael Holroyd). Carole's book has been widely praised and she is that marvel in the world of metropolitan letters a nice friendly person! Finding myself thrown against one or two publishers I was pleased to have confirmed that it is not just me: there is a widespread feeling that the obstacles to publishing serious books as opposed to celebrity or TV tie-in trash are growing by the day. One of these gents who is just about to take retirement said that we shouldn't just blame the publishers (or their corporate bosses who are the source of much of the rot). The whole culture is furiously dumbing-down and the days when large numbers of people snapped up Pelicans by Leavis or Hoggart or Raymond Williams (for example) are long gone. At least the wine flows and the canapés circulate at these events in the good old way.