Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Mining of the Literary Vein of the Dead

Goodness. I'm beginning to think this is a trend. More posthumous literature is on its way:
A new wave of posthumous books by iconic authors is stirring debate over how publishers should handle fragmentary literary remains. Works by Vladimir Nabokov, William Styron, Graham Greene, Carl Jung and Kurt Vonnegut will hit bookstores this fall. Ralph Ellison and the late thriller writer Donald E. Westlake have posthumous novels due out in 2010.

The posthumous works may generate as much controversy as enthusiasm. Many are incomplete or appear in multiple drafts, raising thorny questions about author intent. Others, dug up from the archives of authors' early and less accomplished work, could be branded disappointing footnotes to otherwise lustrous literary legacies. An unfinished murder mystery by Graham Greene, which is being serialized in the literary magazine, "The Strand," was slammed on the Los Angeles Times's literary blog, Jacket Copy, as "a far cry" from Greene's later works, such as "The Power and the Glory."

Certainly the estates and heirs of these literary luminaries can do what they want - and if I were a fan of any of them, I might welcome any work dubbed as new by my favorites - but I say leave the dead alone. The work they wanted to have published has been published in a manner of which they approved. Those who authorize these posthumous publications only dilute the pool of work that's already been created.

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