Some Favorite bits from New Grub Street

“what I look to is intellectual distinction.’
‘Combined with financial success.’
‘Why, that is what distinction means.’ He looked round the room with a smile.

And then the following:

  • Compose yourself and be logical. In the first place, success has nothing whatever to do with moral deserts. [sends dead Dickens spinning]
  • He had the strange sensation of knowing that whatever was needful could be paid for; it relieved his mind immensely. To the rich, illness has none of the worst horrors only understood by the poor.
  • The man who laughs takes the side of a cruel omnipotence, if one can imagine such a thing
  • [says one character, in 1891!] “If Germany would shut up her schools and universities for the next quarter of a century and go ahead like blazes with military training there’d be a nation such as the world has never seen.”
  • When already there was more good literature in the world than any mortal could cope with in his lifetime, here was she exhausting herself in the manufacture of printed stuff which no one even pretended to be more than a commodity for the day’s market
  • Or again, the readers who sat here at these radiating lines of desks, what were they but hapless flies caught in a huge web, its nucleus the great circle of the Catalogue? Darker, darker. From the towering wall of volumes seemed to emanate visible motes, intensifying the obscurity; in a moment the book-lined circumference of the room would be but a featureless prison-limit.
  • And here comes in the benefit of the libraries; from the commercial point of view the libraries are indispensable. Do you suppose the public would support the present number of novelists if each book had to be purchased?