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?