Saturday, January 26, 2019

“There is a conspiracy of silence against my book, Oscar. What should I do?”

"Join it" 

On Thursday we visited naked capitalism and linked to a book review in: "Seeking a Cure for Our New Gilded Age — For the Total Corporate Domination of Everything".

By Friday the review at naked capitalism had disappeared.
And FT Alphaville's editor linked to the reason why in that morning's FTAV Further Reading post.

Apparently the author of  the book in question "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition" had complained that the review, although very favorable, had given away too many of the secrets revealed in his book.

And that after much back-and-forth Yves Smith, proprietor of naked capitalism had pulled the post.

And replaced it.
With a much shorter review.
Entitled: "Jonathan Tepper’s The Myth of Capitalism: 'Fucking Unreadable'"

In which she explained the tempest-in-a-teapot and her reviewer's earlier attempt to highlight the positive aspects of the book.

To which one of her commenters replied:
“If a 3,000 word review contains so much of your book’s unique insights that you fear people won’t bother reading your book, then you didn’t write a book. You wrote a blog post and puffed it up to 200 pages.”
And another said:
"If Siman [the reviewer] can do such a great job summarizing, in a few words, Tepper’s book, maybe Tepper should consider hiring him as an editor?"
Ouch. And ouch again.

And the Oscar Wilde anecdote paraphrased as our headline?
Probably didn't happen.

From Quote Investigator:
“There is a Conspiracy of Silence Against Me. What Should I Do, Oscar?” “Join It.”
Oscar Wilde? Augustine Birrell? Lewis Morris? Fictional?
Dear Quote Investigator: There is a popular anecdote about Oscar Wilde that is very funny, but it is also implausible in my opinion. The story claims that Wilde was speaking with a terrible poet who had recently published a book of verse. The rhymer complained that no one was reviewing his work. He felt it was being deliberately ignored.
“There is a conspiracy of silence against my book, Oscar. What should I do?”
“Join it,” replied Oscar.
This is a cleverly cutting remark, but I do not believe that Wilde would have been that cruel. In my readings he always seemed to be a gracious conversationalist, and he would not issue this type of direct insult to someone. Could you research this anecdote and quotation?

Quote Investigator: This is an intriguing question but it is not an easy one to probe. QI has located strong evidence that some people who knew Wilde and knew about this incident expressed an opinion similar to yours. Friends of Wilde tell a version in which he did not directly insult the target of this comical barb.

Yet, the earliest published reports of this episode located by QI depict Wilde delivering the quip during a face-to-face encounter with the poet. For example, the following version of the story appeared in a review called “The Critic” on October 13, 1894, and this account was widely disseminated in other reviews and journals during the next few years [TCCS]:
The Bookman tells an amusing story of Mr. Oscar Wilde and a certain poet, who shall be nameless. The bard complained to the aesthete that a book of his had been practically ignored by certain critics. “There is a conspiracy of silence against my book,” he said. “What should you do about it, if you were I?” “Join it,” was the answer.
A very different account was presented by a biographer of Wilde named Robert Harborough Sherard in “The Real Oscar Wilde” in 1916. In this version, the poet, identified as Lewis Morris, asks for advice from the statesman Augustine Birrell. At a later time Birrell communicates the query to Wilde who responds acerbically [ROCS]:
Apropos of conspiracies of silence, there is a frequently told anecdote that the poet, Lewis Morris, having complained to Oscar that there was a conspiracy of silence against him was promptly advised to join it. I never believed that Oscar Wilde would have said such a thing to a brother poet, because I never knew him wilfully to hurt anybody’s feelings, and for another thing, this particular poet was an eminently well-meaning if tedious personage, insufficiently popular to excite anybody’s hostility....
"an eminently well-meaning if tedious personage, insufficiently popular to excite anybody’s hostility...."
Ouch again.