By Walter Lionel George
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Additional resources for A Novelist on Novels 1918
Of the copies printed. To sell to a circulating library is not selling; it is lending at one remove; it means that a single copy bought by a library is read by anything between twenty and a hundred people. Sometimes it is read by more, for a copy bought by Mudie's is sold off when the subscribers no longer ask for it. It goes to a town of the size of, say Winchester. Discarded after a year or so by the subscribers it may be sold off for a penny or twopence, with one thrown into the dozen for luck, and arrive with its cover hanging on in a way that is a testimonial to the binder, with its pages marked with thumbs, stained with tears, or, as the case may be, with soup, at some small stationer's shop in a little market town, to go out on hire at a penny a week, until it no longer holds together, and goes to its eternal rest in the pulping machine.
M. Dell,' because she writes such sweet, pretty books, a definition where slander subtly blends with veracity. But, in most cases, nothing remains of either author or title except a hazy impression; the reader is not quite sure whether the book she liked so much is Fraternity or the Corsican Brothers. She will know that it had something to do with family, and that the author's name began with 'G' ... unless it was 'S'. It cannot be otherwise, so long as novels are read in the way they are read, that is to say, if they are taken as drugs.
To inflame. The object of a novel is not to send the reader to sleep, not to make him oblivious of time on a railway journey; it is meant to show character, to stimulate observation, to make life vivid, and as life is most vivid when it is most unpleasant, the novel that is worth reading is naturally set aside. For such novels stir the brain too much to let it go to sleep. Those novels are judged in the same way as the baser kind, and that is, perhaps, why the novel itself stands so low. It does stand low, at least in England, for it is almost impossible to sell it.
A Novelist on Novels 1918 by Walter Lionel George