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Martin Eden 124







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Books:

Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf




we loved each other, and our wedding day is no nearer. Dont think me immodest in thus talking about our wedding, for really I have my heart, all that I am, at stake. Why dont you try to get work on a newspaper, if you are so bound up in your writing? Why not become a reporter?--for a while, at least?" "It would spoil my style," was his answer, in a low, monotonous voice. "You have no idea how Ive worked for style." "But those storiettes," she argued. "You called them hack-work. You wrote many of them. Didnt they spoil your style?" "No, the cases are different. The storiettes were ground out, jaded, at the end of a long day of application to style. But a reporters work is all hack from morning till night, is the one paramount thing of life. And it is a whirlwind life, the life of the moment, with neither past nor future, and certainly without thought of any style but reportorial style, and that certainly is not literature. To become a reporter now, just as my style is taking form, crystallizing, would be to commit literary suicide. As it is, every storiette, every word of every storiette, was a violation of myself, of my self-respect, of my respect for beauty. I tell you it was sickening. I was guilty of sin. And I was secretly glad when the markets failed, even if my clothes did go into pawn. But the joy of writing the Love-cycle! The creative joy in its noblest form! That was compensation for everything." Martin did not know that Ruth was unsympathetic concerning the creative joy. She used the phrase--it was on her lips he had first heard it. She had read about it, studied about it, in the university in the course of earning her Bachelorship of Arts; but she was not original, not creative, and all manifestations of culture on her part were but harpings of the harpings of others. "May not the editor have been right in his revision of your Sea Lyrics?" she questioned. "Remember, an editor must have proved qualifications or else he would not be an editor." "Thats in line with the persistence of the established," he rejoined, his heat against the editor-folk getting the better of him. "What is, is not only right, but is the best possible. The existence of anything is sufficient vindication of its fitness to exist--to exist, mark you, as the average person unconsciously believes, not merely in present conditions, but in all conditions. It is their ignorance, of course, that makes them believe such rot--their ignorance, which is nothing more nor less than the henidical mental process described by Weininger. They think they think, and such thinkless creatures are the arbiters of the lives of the few who really think." He paused, overcome by the consciousness that he had been talking over Ruths head. "Im sure I dont know who this Weininger is," she retorted. "And you are so dreadfully general that I fail to follow you. What I was speaking of was the qualification of editors--" "And Ill tell you," he interrupted. "The chief qualification of ninety- nine per cent of all editors is failure. They have failed as writers. Dont think they prefer the drudgery of the desk and the slavery to their circulation and to the business manager to the joy of writing. They have tried to write, and they have failed. And right there is the cursed paradox of it. Every portal to success in literature is guarded by those watch-dogs, the failures in literature. The editors, sub-editors, associate editors, most of them, and the manuscript-readers for the magazines and book-publishers, most of them, nearly all of them, are men who wanted to write and who have failed. And yet they, of all creatures under the sun the most unfit, are the very creatures who decide what shall and what shall not find its way into print--they, who have proved themselves not original, who have demonstrated that they lack the divine fire, sit in judgment upon originality and genius. And after them come the reviewers, just so many more failures. Dont tell me that they have not dreamed the dream and attempted to write poetry or fiction; for they have, and they have failed. Why, the average review is more nauseating than cod-liver

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