restricted access Chapter 14a Of the Literary Industry
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813 s4s4s4s4s4 c h a p t e r 1 4a Of the Literary Industryb Democracy not only makes the taste for letters penetrate the industrial classes, it introduces the industrial spirit into literature. [In aristocratic centuries you often take literature as a career, and in the others as a trade.] In aristocracies, readers are particular and few; in democracies, it is less difficult to please them, and their number is prodigious. As a result, among aristocratic peoples, you can hope to succeed only by immense efforts, and these efforts which can bring a great deal of glory cannot ever gain much money; while among democratic nations, a writer can hope to obtainwitha . Democracy not only makes the taste for letters penetrate the industrial classes, it introduces the industrial spirit into literature. Since readers are very numerous and very easy to satisfy because of the absolute need that they have for something new, you can make your fortune by constantly producing a host of new but imperfect works. You thus easily enough attain a small glory and a great fortune. Democratic literatures for a small number of great writers swarm with sellers of ideas (YTC, CVf, p. 15). b. On the jacket of the chapter: “Small chapter that seems to me too short (given its merit) and that must, I believe, be combined or even destroyed.” In the manuscript you also find a draft of the chapter, but no rubish exists for it. The central idea of this chapter, as Reino Virtanen (“Tocqueville and the Romantics,” Symposium 13,no. 2,1959, p. 180) has remarked, recalls the article of Sainte-Beuve, “De la littérature industrielle,” Revue des deux mondes, 19, 1839, pp. 675–91. Cf. Marie, I, p. 248. 814 of the literary industry out much cost a mediocre fame and a great fortune.c For that, he does not have to be admired; it is enough that he is enjoyed.d The always growing crowd of readers and the continual need that they have for something new assures the sales of a book that they hardly value. In times of democracy, the public often acts toward authors like kings ordinarily do toward their courtiers; it enriches them and despises them. What more is needed for the venal souls who are born in courts, or who are worthy to live there? Democratic literatures always swarm with these authors who see in letters only an industry,e and, for the few great writers that you see there, you count sellers of ideas by the thousands. c. In the draft: “It would be very useful to know what Corneille, Racine and Voiture gained from their works.” d. In the draft: Not onlydotheAmericansmakefewbooks,butalsomostof theirbooksseemwritten solely with profit in view. You would say that in general their authors see in literature only an industry and cultivate letters in the same spirit that they clear virgin forests. That is easily understood. [In the margin: This must probably be deleted, for the Americans cannot present the image of opposites. If in literature they are subject to the aristocratic genius of the English, as I said previously, how can they present the vices of the literary genius of democracies? That is not yet clear however.]/ The fault comes in the word literature. The Americans do not have literature, but they have books and what I am saying about their books is true. e. In the draft: “Authors desire money more than in aristocratic centuries because money is everything./ “They earn money more easily because of the multitude of readers./ “And the less they aim for perfection, the more of it they earn.” ...


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