“It is not poverty, so much as pretence, that harasses a ruined man—the struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse.” — Washington Irving, “The Wife,” The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
Tag: The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
Quote of the Day
“There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt where we may indulge our reveries and build our air castles undisturbed.” — Washington Irving, “The Mutability of Literature,” The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
Quote of the Day
“Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” — Washington Irving, “Philip of Pokanoket,” The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
Too Many Books … Again
I was looking up the source for a Washington Irving quote and saw this passage about the overabundance of books:
“Formerly there were some restraints on this excessive multiplication. Works had to be transcribed by hand, which was a slow and laborious operation; they were written either on parchment, which was expensive, so that one work was often erased to make way for another; or on papyrus, which was fragile and extremely perishable. Authorship was a limited and unprofitable craft, pursued chiefly by monks in the leisure and solitude of their cloisters. The accumulation of manuscripts was slow and costly, and confined almost entirely to monasteries. To these circumstances it may, in some measure, be owing that we have not been inundated by the intellect of antiquity; that the fountains of thought have not been broken up, and modern genius drowned in the deluge. But the inventions of paper and the press have put an end to all these restraints. They have made everyone a writer, and enabled every mind to pour itself into print, and diffuse itself over the whole intellectual world. The consequences are alarming. The stream of literature has swollen into a torrent — augmented into a river — expanded into a sea.” — “The Mutability of Literature”, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon
It immediately made me think of how often I hear the same complaint with digitization added as latest step in the evolution of books. I found the similarities even more interesting when I saw that Washington Irving wrote this at a time when works were often republished without the author’s permission. The same technologies that make it easier to copy books make it easier to self-publish and it goes to show that a lack of effective copyright protection does not stop writers from writing.
And there are the words “stream” and “torrent” to describe the number of books published. This is doubly amusing to me because Washington Irving was talking about changes in language (and their effect on the popularity of older works).