Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The green baize door

In the wake of my previous post, I began thumbing through Janet Hobhouse's Everybody Who Was Anybody: A Biography of Gertrude Stein. The author is good (and appropriately waspish) on literary maneuvering in the City of Light. In one excellent bit, it appears that Stein will abandon Ford Madox Ford's Transatlantic Review, which had been bravely serializing her work, for the tonier Criterion. She never actually jumped ship--in part because Criterion bigwig T.S. Eliot, always referred to in hushed tones as The Major, found her prose disturbing and incomprehensible. What I loved, though, was the insanely decent note Ford sent to his rising star when her departure seemed imminent:
I should be sorry to lose you, but I was never the one to stand in a contributor's way: indeed I really exist as a sort of half-way house between non-publishable youth and real money--a sort of green baize swing door that everyone kicks both on entering and leaving.

We could all use just such a door.
I wanted to name my blog "The house of mirth" or "House of mirth" but they were both taken - one by you! Of course I could have chosen the site name different from the blog name but in my opinion they had to fit each other.
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