The logic goes like this: "If you can't seem to get your novel published, or if it's a commercial failure, never fear: some of the best writers improved as their reputations and sales declined."
- ..."Ralph Ellison, having written Invisible Man, which was almost immediately recognised as one of the great books of the 20th century, was effectively paralysed for the rest of his career.
- F Scott Fitzgerald. "He had something of a thirst on him already, but the combination of enormous fame and pots of cash sprung by the success of This Side of Paradise when he was just 24 must have helped tip him into the alcoholism that eventually killed him."
...."By way of sad but happy contrast, there are those writers whose work quietly marinated and matured in neglect. Could Kafka have developed such original vision in public sight? Could Bruno Schulz? Furthermore, a good number of the greats – Henry James, Herman Melville – got steadily better as their reputations and sales declined.
All of which provides some consolation for the many writers who haven't yet been published. Think of Samuel Beckett, who declared that his whole subject was failure, but he managed to reinvent both modernism and theatre while tucked away in obscurity. Not for nothing did his wife greet news of his Nobel prize as "a catastrophe".
The question about Kafka remains with me long after I finish reading the entire article. "Could Kafka have developed such original vision in public sight? What editor with any sen$e would have published him?"
The full article is here