How to Fail in Literature; a lecture by Andrew Lang


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The Project Gutenberg eBook, How to Fail in Literature, by Andrew Lang


This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net





Title: How to Fail in Literature


Author: Andrew Lang

Release Date: May 11, 2005 [eBook #2566]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HOW TO FAIL IN LITERATURE***






Transcribed from the 1890 Field & Tuer edition by David Price, email
ccx074@coventry.ac.uk





HOW TO FAIL IN LITERATURE: A LECTURE BY ANDREW LANG


PREFACE


_This Lecture was delivered at the South Kensington Museum, in aid of the
College for Working Men and Women. As the Publishers, perhaps
erroneously, believe that some of the few authors who were not present
may be glad to study the advice here proffered, the Lecture is now
printed. It has been practically re-written, and, like the kiss which
the Lady returned to Rodolphe_, is revu, corrige, et considerablement
augmente.

A. L.




HOW TO FAIL IN LITERATURE


What should be a man's or a woman's reason for taking literature as a
vocation, what sort of success ought they to desire, what sort of
ambition should possess them? These are natural questions, now that so
many readers exist in the world, all asking for something new, now that
so many writers are making their pens "in running to devour the way" over
so many acres of foolscap. The legitimate reasons for enlisting (too
often without receiving the shilling) in this army of writers are not far
to seek. A man may be convinced that he has useful, or beautiful, or
entertaining ideas within him, he may hold that he can express them in
fresh and charming language. He may, in short, have a "vocation," or
feel conscious of a vocation, which is not exactly the same thing. There
are "many thyrsus bearers, few mystics," many are called, few chosen.
Still, to be sensible of a vocation is something, nay, is much, for most
of us drift without any particular aim or predominant purpose. Nobody
can justly censure people whose chief interest is in letters, whose chief
pleasure is in study or composition, who rejoice in a fine sentence as
others do in a well modelled limb, or a delicately touched landscape,
nobody can censure them for trying their fortunes in literature. Most of
them will fail, for, as the bookseller's young man told an author once,
they have the poetic temperament, without the poetic power. Still among
these whom _Pendennis_ has tempted, in boyhood, to run away from school
to literature as Marryat has tempted others to run away to sea, there
must be some who will succeed. But an early and intense ambition is not
everything, any more than a capacity for taking pains is everything in
literature or in any art.

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