Sunday, November 08, 2009

Old Authors: Shut Up

Same old story from Robert McCrum as he adds fuel to the ageism of our literary culture once again. (It's always the same old story, Observer, today.) Old authors ought to shut up, is his basic message, pointing to the thinness of Roth's latest novel, the disappointment of Nabokov's recently revealed last, and the fact that Doris Lessing is remembered for the novels she wrote in her forties rather than her latest, written at 87 - and the fact that Shakespeare hung up his quill before he was 50, another aspect, according to McCrum, of his genius. McCrum rather shoots himself in the foot again, though, with his finger-wagging retort to Tolstoy's avowal, expressed at the age of 79, not to be silent: that Tolstoy produced his last 'novel of any consequence' at the tender age of 72...

Edited in: This, ironically, in an edition of the review which leads with an appreciation by Tim Adams of Alan Bennett and the cover story strapline: At 75, with a masterly new play on stage, are we finally seeing the true Alan Bennett?
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