By Jeff Salter
What would I say to (or ask of) my favorite famous authors (even if long gone)? Keep reading.
Let’s start with the Immortal Bard. I’d thank him for about half of his plays and tell him the other half were too dry for 20th Century readers (and beyond). Yeah, I know the plays were written to be experienced in the theatre…not read in books.
I’d tell him some of the critics’ wild theories about some dozen other people who supposedly may have written his works — mostly (they allege) because Bill S. was not educated enough or sophisticated enough. Then I’d ask him, “Did you write those plays (and sonnets) or not?”
Depending upon his answer, my follow-up might be: “Did you have any collaborators?”
The novel 1984, published in 1949, was mostly written in 1948. My question to George would be: “Realizing how primitive and scarce TV was in 1948, how on earth did you so exactly envision the kind of in-home surveillance that has become possible – indeed on-going – in modern times with TV V-chips, internet, and PC cams?” [Not to mention ‘smart’ phones].
Though primitive television was scientifically demonstrated as far back as about 1925, the BBC did not transmit the world’s first public television service until late 1936 in London. In America, experimental TV markets apparently date back to the very early 1940s, but most citizens had not even heard of antenna-received television until after WW2.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Though he had many varied accomplishments (both literary and other), my comment to Sir Arthur would be simply, “Thanks for giving us Sherlock Holmes.”
To the frail, lonely recluse of Amherst, I would say, “Many of your poems have moved me deeply. I wish you could have experienced Facebook… because you could’ve had a lot of friends and acquaintances without ever leaving home.”
[Some of you will read that remark as being snarky, but that’s not at all my intention. An individual like Emily – with today’s technology – could be involved, embraced, and encouraged by the many kind souls who appreciate her work.]
What about YOU? Which famous author would you like to speak to? What you say?
George Orwell – that’s a great question to ask of him! And love the giving thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, what an influence he’s been to so many!
absolutely. I’ve read 1984 twice. Once in the late 1960s when TV was simply a one-way antenna transmission and nobody knew what you were watching (or what you were doing while watching).
I remember thinking, some 45 yrs ago, “how on earth could the TV serve as a device to MONITOR the actions/behavior of the owner of that device?”
To Dame Barbara Cartland, I would say “Thanks for taking me on such fabulous adventures. As a geeky, socially awkward teenager your stories were great escapes.
To Debbie Macomber, I would say “Thanks for showing me that regular people can also have wonderful adventures while falling in love.”
To JL Salter, I would say “Ain’t life great? Just a click of this here ‘puter thing, and I can communicate with someone clear across the country – or even the world!”
Thanks, Patty, both for visiting & posting … and for your continuing support here.
My M-I-L absolutely LOVED Cartland and at one time owned all her novels (over 100 as I recall). She’d read the final pages first… just to be absolutely certain it was a happy ending.
I would want to talk to F. Scott Fitzgerald and I would ask him everything from his inspirations to his favorite cologne. I can’t explain it, but I need to know what he smelled like. After all, he’s my literary boyfriend. I’d also like to talk to Salinger. I’d ask him about the books he finished that haven’t been published yet.
Great to see you here, Krysten. I never was a huge fan of Fitzgerald, but I certainly thing it would be interesting to talk with Salinger (if you could corral him long enough). He was an obsessive recluse… right? I read recently that he did actually publish at least one other novel, but then stopped cold. Yes, his private papers must be a gold mine of creativity and kookiness.
It took me a while to come up with anything.I have been kind of at a loss for this week. I imagine FB and bogs would have changed the world for many of the writers of old, Jeff. A few come to mind that it would have assisted, like Lord Byron, John Keats,Elizabeth Barret,Robert Louis Stephenson, who immediately come to mind.
Yeah. E.A. Poe would’ve enjoyed the internet too.
But for some reason Emily D. really stuck out in my mind as someone who craved contact but couldn’t bring herself to engage. So Facebook would have been perfect for her.
I’d talk to Coleridge and ask about Kubla Khan and if the man from Porlock really stole his inspiration by killing his buzz! I’d chat with Austen about characterization and irony. I’d ask Mitchell if Scarlett gets Rhett back. And I’d confront Wordsworth and find out if he stole his ideas from Samuel.
Gosh, Jennifer … you’ve stored up a lot to discuss with these fine authors. I bet the chat with Jane Austen would be the most memorable…
Brilliant choices … gosh, I’m glad I never had to learn anything from Shakespeare, but then again we had Goethe …
Orwell! Great question and made me think of the other guy who did the radio hoax (will probably remember his name once the computer’s turned off, sorry).
Agree with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and very much feel I need to get to learn more about Emily Dickinson.
The infamous radio hoax (HG Wells’ War of the Worlds) was broadcast by Orson Welles … who later would “sell no wine before its time”
Yup … when I got the email I thought OF COURSE ! it was late last night 😉
Jeff, you are obviously much more literally sophisticated than I am. My only brush with the such as Shakespeare came while I was at university. But I must say I learned to love literature from my Literature Professor. 🙂 I can still not think of any questions, even of the greats. 🙂 Good blog here!
Well, I was an Eng. major in college and I took courses with the idea of pursuing my masters in Eng. [later changed to Lib. Sci. however].
I had appreciated Shakespeare’s plays since reading Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Hamlet in high school. I college I took either 2 or 3 courses which were exclusively Shakespeare.
He’s my buddy…
That’s more difficult than it sounded at first! It’s really hard for me to narrow it down…but here goes! I’d love to have conversations with Edgar Allan Poe, George Orwell (loved 1984!), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (love the Rime of the Ancient Mariner), and especially H. G. Wells – another author who seemed ahead of his time. Oh, yes, and of course, Jules Verne. What would I ask them? How did they get their inspiration? What drove them to keep writing? I’d like to tell them about the Internet and see what they think – if they could but comprehend it. And above all – how did they know what was coming?
I’d also love to have a conversation with Ray Bradbury. I heard him speak in person once, late 1980s or early 1990s. He was an amazing man, with a wonderful talent for irony. I love his short stories and The Martian Chronicles.
As far as non-literary folks, there are many, but one stands out above the rest – Abraham Lincoln. I’ve always admired him and I’d like to tell him so! And (tongue in cheek here, but really!) I would ask him whether he believes in vampires (Movie: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter)!
Gosh, Carol… this is quite a variety!
I agree with most of your selections, too.
Except maybe Coleridge. Ha.
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