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#371747 - 01/01/07 04:40 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
 Quote:
Iain: "Well yes I believe you did."
Well, but I didn't. Perhaps you would like to try and read more carefully what I have written.

 Quote:
Iain: "your statement that Harry Potter will not reach 'classic' despite the fact that it already has"
None of my dictionaries gives "temporal popularity" as a definition of "classic".

I don't believe Harry will last, because the next generation will have its own Harrys that will go by some other name.

 Quote:
Me: "Beethoven, for example, wasn't willing to be forgotten, nor did he dumb down his music to reach a wider audience."

Derulux: "This is why I was confused... that statement supports my argument."
I don't see how. Your message seemed to be that one should try to reach as wide an audience as possible or be forgotten. My message was that those whose works have outlasted generations and centuries have almost always been the uncompromising guys who didn't dilute and thin their work to make it reach a wider audience. Every generation has its popular stuff, but the stuff that will last almost always comes from the uncompromising guys.

 Quote:
Derulux: "[Lafferty] was a fairly obscure science fiction writer"
Who happened to also write a very well-received novel about Native Americans, a novel currently available from University of Oklahoma Press, if you would like to read it (it sounds like you haven't read any Lafferty story or novel).

 Quote:
Derulux: "[Lafferty] ignored the traditional mode of telling a story, and through that, won some uniqueness."
First of all, what do you mean by "traditional mode of telling a story"? In some ways, Lafferty is more traditional than Harry Potter. If some one quality makes Lafferty unique, it is his use of language. He often uses extreme compression of time; he often uses multiple extended metaphors throughout a work; he sometimes uses shifting focalization in a manner that might confuse readers new to Lafferty; he sometimes uses his characters as well as his non-participant narrator to tell the reader that he's being literal, although he's in fact being metaphorical; etc.; but none of that would alone make him unique.

 Quote:
Derulux: "Still, he only had/has a small cult following"
If he has "a small cult following", then the cult is one of the most elite small cults that have followed an author in the latter half of the 20th century, the "Lafferty cult" including authors like Gene Wolfe, Arthur C. Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Poul Anderson.

 Quote:
"If we're talking about the same Lafferty, his first novel was published forty years ago."
Yeah, sure. That much can be gathered from the Wikipedia article, isn't that right, Derulux? In the 60s and 70s, however, Lafferty was being published by major publishers, a bit of information which didn't serve the point I was making (that of rare attention having been given to Lafferty by his peers and such who went on to publish his work, after the major publishers had abandoned him; which was also an example of the general process of an elite group of connoisseurs making and keeping a genius' work available and known to those who care about such stuff).

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#371748 - 01/01/07 04:58 PM Re: Would you rather...
Iain Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/06
Posts: 545
Loc: London, UK
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
[QUOTE] Iain: "your statement that Harry Potter will not reach 'classic' despite the fact that it already has"
None of my dictionaries gives "temporal popularity" as a definition of "classic".

You can't say that it is temporal popularity until it has ended.

 Quote:
Me: "Beethoven, for example, wasn't willing to be forgotten, nor did he dumb down his music to reach a wider audience."

I don't think he could have "dumbed down" his music even if he wanted to.

I don't see how. Your message seemed to be that one should try to reach as wide an audience as possible or be forgotten. My message was that those whose works have outlasted generations and centuries have almost always been the uncompromising guys who didn't dilute and thin their work to make it reach a wider audience. Every generation has its popular stuff, but the stuff that lasts usually comes from the uncompromising guys.

What, like Rossini and Mendelssohn and early Liszt? This music was often written for the audience and still endures.

 Quote:
Derulux: "Still, he only had/has a small cult following"
If he has "a small cult following", then the cult is one of the most elite small cults that have followed an author in the latter half of the 20th century, including authors like Gene Wolfe, Arthur C. Clarke, Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Poul Anderson.

Certainly Gene Wolfe is the finest author I have ever read (and who is astoundingly unpopular), but I wouldn't call Arthur Clarke "cult".

I don't mean to malign Mr. Lafferty at all, I just read a short story of his which can be found online which seemed to be interesting.

As far as something being better inherently because it is less popular (not graspable by the masses) is crude. I think that some people are inherently anti-social (myself for instance) and tend to enjoy most the books and music that are not that popular (I always enjoyed Medtner and Scriabin). The reality is, Beethoven is popular because his music touches everybody (Clockwork Orange), not just some cultured elite. Mozart is the same, and Bach is mostly the same.

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#371749 - 01/01/07 05:10 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Iain: "Certainly Gene Wolfe is the finest author I have ever read (and who is astoundingly unpopular), but I wouldn't call Arthur Clarke 'cult'."

I didn't mean to call either of them 'cult'. I meant that they are (or were, inasmuch as some of them are now dead) a part of the "small cult-following" that Derulux told me (or you) Lafferty had achieved.

Wolfe is indeed a fine writer. He wrote the following of Lafferty: "No true reader who has read as much as a single story by Raphael Aloysius Lafferty needs to be told that he is our most original writer. In fact, he may not be just ours, but the most original writer in the history of literature ... Just about everything Lafferty writes is fun, is witty, is entertaining and playful. But it is not easy, for it is a mingling of allegory with myth, and of both with something more..."

I hope you will explore more Lafferty: you would no doubt enjoy the journey. And if you would happen to read his novel, The Devil Is Dead, send me an e-mail, and I'll send you the missing last chapter and Interglossia (Lafferty didn't deliver them to the publisher in time, and they were omitted: that was in the 70s, not yet the happy small-press time).

I don't think Mozart or any other classical composer touches the majority of people very deeply. But I've already written too much about the subject earlier in these forums...

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#371750 - 01/01/07 05:26 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:

Wolfe is indeed a fine writer. He wrote the following of Lafferty: "No true reader who has read as much as a single story by Raphael Aloysius Lafferty needs to be told that he is our most original writer. In fact, he may not be just ours, but the most original writer in the history of literature ... Just about everything Lafferty writes is fun, is witty, is entertaining and playful. But it is not easy, for it is a mingling of allegory with myth, and of both with something more..."[/b]
By the way, Iain, Wolfe wrote that in his introduction to Lafferty's Episodes of the Argo, a book that also contains the missing last chapter of The Devil is Dead, but also a book now quite unavailable. Speaking of The Devil is Dead, I and Mr. Eric Walker (author of the www.greatsfandf.com website) are planning to bring out a new edition of the novel, edition which would include the last chapter and Interglossia. If you're interested, I'll let you know how it goes.

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#371751 - 01/01/07 06:07 PM Re: Would you rather...
LiszThalberg Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/06
Posts: 3288
Personally I would chose to the be the great pianist. Are Books a Million gift cards included in adequate But hey! What do I know about income?! I'm only 13! \:D


Matt

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#371752 - 01/01/07 06:47 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
By the way, Wolfe's introduction contains some observations that should be of general interest to whoever reads this thread, and that I think are sufficiently relevant to this thread to be quoted here:

 Quote:
...while the rest of us strive (often unsuccesfully) for originality, Lafferty struggles to suppress it. To a commercial publisher, a desirable--which is to say, a highly profitable--writer is one who sees exactly what the mass of book-buyers see, and not a whit more clearly than they, but is able to enunciate his vision (if it may be called that) in a way that they cannot. Thus we have hundreds, if not thousands, of turgid novels about wealthy families who are not in the least like actual wealthy families but are instead what people lacking both experience and insight imagine such families to be. These books, and many other kinds by writers of the same sort, may be said in both senses to constitute the base of popular literature for adults.

Over them are the books of writers that see the same things that others do, but see them more clearly; these are the books for which true readers search, for the most part. For instance, I (for I count myself a true reader as well as you) had never, even after Proust and dozens of lesser authors, understood what it was like to be a genuine aristocrat, with a title the passing centuries had left meaningless ... until I read "Isak Dinesen" ... I had seen people of that kind, most clearly perhaps in the seven novels of Proust, but I had seen them from without. Dinesen had not only seen them but had seen them through their own eyes, and was able to make me see them too.

Lafferty is not like that.

Lafferty sees what we do not see ...

The words every writer dreads most are "I didn't understand." And every writer of any merit at all must hear them often. It is impossible to write intelligently about anything even marginally worth writing about, without writing too obscurely for a great many readers, and particularly for those who refuse as a matter of principle to read with care and to consider what they have read.

(Wolfe then recounts some of the reactions to his own work.)

Think of the wall of incomprehension a writer like Lafferty faces, a wall as blank, as ugly, and as unyielding as concrete. Small wonder that he labors at times to shut an eye. Less wonder, even, that too often only small presses like this one will publish him when he has refused...

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#371753 - 01/01/07 06:57 PM Re: Would you rather...
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Book of the New Sun is the greatest sci fi/fantasy series of all time \:\)
_________________________
"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."

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#371754 - 01/02/07 10:27 AM Re: Would you rather...
MarioQuirozA Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/06
Posts: 62
Loc: Morelia,Michoacán,México
I think it would be great if you delete the words "well recognized and good source of income" and "with only an adequate income" in order to have the sentence:

"Would you rather be a passable, decent-but-not-incredible pianist who is very professionally successful -OR- an extraordinaly gifted musician who is far lesser known?"

I have this 7 year old student who played very well on her first piano examination. She got Excellent grades for her performance.

My dear friends, this is priceless and no money can buy it. ;\)
_________________________
Chopin forever

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#371755 - 01/02/07 12:50 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Has anybody heard about or read the contemporary review of Beethoven's opus 111 where the reviewer writes more or less the following: "Beethoven's loss of hearing must be considered the reason for some of the horrible stuff contained herein, or else printer's errors; this music is also much too difficult for the hobbyist to sight-read at his leisure; we cannot recommend it to any working person or woman, except as a curiosity; however, we must admit that it was intended for a different market, and that it is art, rather than entertainment, howsoever ugly and modern and riddled with errors." (Heavy paraphrasing, and perhaps something amounting to inaccuracy, but that was the essence of it: anybody remember it more clearly?)

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#371756 - 01/02/07 03:17 PM Re: Would you rather...
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Iain: "What, like Rossini and Mendelssohn and early Liszt? This music was often written for the audience and still endures."

The early Liszt pieces that people still include in their lists of favourites were often *not* written for any audience, if not a private one. Liszt played mostly transcriptions in concert. He probably only ever played just a few of his etudes and Annees publicly; there is no evidence to the contrary (and many of his concert programs are well documented). I would recall that Alan Walker writes in his Liszt biography that Liszt performed the Dante Sonata only once in public, and that it wasn't well received.

I don't know much about Rossini or Mendelssohn. However, I think Mendelssohn wrote his best piece of music when he was 16--certainly the best known of his pieces--and I don't think he wrote it any specific audience in mind.

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#371757 - 01/02/07 03:58 PM Re: Would you rather...
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1061
Loc: Massachusetts
Nice discussion. It seems hard to make the decision because the question is a little vague to me.
But to whoever mentioned Alicia Keyes this woman is AMAZING.

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