Monthly Archives: October 2010

Talent will out…

Many people lie about the realities of being a writer. One of the biggest lies is that ‘talent will out’. In other words, if you’ve got it, someone somewhere will recognize it. It is about as credible as publishers “wanting fresh voices”.

Here is a sample of the critical reaction Henrik Ibsen’s play Ghosts received when it was first produced in Britain. I rest my case:

Ibsen’s positively abominable play entitled Ghosts….An open drain: a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly….Gross, almost putrid indecorum….Literary carrion…. Crapulous stuff” – Daily Telegraph

Revoltingly suggestive and blasphemous ….Characters either contradictory in themselves, uninteresting or abhorrent.” – Daily Chronicle

Morbid, unhealthy and disgusting story….A piece to bring the stage into disrepute and dishonour with every right-thinking man and woman.” – Lloyd’s

Lugubrious diagnosis of sordid impropriety….Characters are prigs, pedants and profligates….Morbid caricatures…. Maunderings of nookshotten Norwegians” – Black and White

As foul and filthy a concoction as has ever been allowed to disgrace the boards of an English theatre….dull and disgusting….Nastiness and malodorousness laid on thickly as with a trowel.” – Era

Ninety-seven percent of the people who go to see Ghosts are nasty-minded people who find the discussion of nasty subjects to their taste, in exact proportion to their nastiness” – Sporting and Dramatic News

Ugly, nasty, discordant, and downright dull…. A gloomy sort of ghoul, bent on groping for horrors by night, and blinking like a stupid old owl when the warm sunlight of the best of life dances into his wrinkled eyes” – Gentlewoman

The socialistic and the sexless….The unwomanly women, the unsexed females, the whole army of unprepossessing cranks in petticoats….Educated and muck-ferreting dogs…. Effeminate men and male women….. They all of them–men and women alike–know that they are doing not only a nasty but an illegal thing…. The Lord Chamberlain [the censor] left them alone to wallow in Ghosts…. Outside a silly clique, there is not the slightest interest in the Scandinavian humbug or all his works…. A wave of human folly” – Truth

P.S. My thanks go to John Bergstrom of New York for collating, and sending, the quotes in this post.

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