While glancing over Neil Cartlidge’s insightful introduction to Arnold Bennett, I was disappointed to find that Virginia Woolf’s famous 1923 essay, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (from New York Evening Post (Nov 17, 1923) – much reprinted and considered “one of the most influential manifestos of literary modernism” is still protected under copyright. This essay was revised and published as “Character in Fiction,” Criterion July 1924.
People complain about Sonny Bono Act in the abstract, but I come across the 1922 wall EVERY DAY. BTW, if Sonny Bono Act didn’t exist, many of Virgina Woolf’s works would be freely available.
/Bennett once said,/ “If anyone imagines my sole aim is art for art’s sake, they are cruelly deceived.” Such a robustly self-interested attitude has not endeared him to posterity, especially not to conscious literary elitists like Woolf, but it reflects the fact that, for Bennett, economic self-sufficiency as a writer was hard-won – a precariously privileged position sustainable only through continued effort. Besides productivity, Bennett’s early career as a journalist also taught him versatility. One of the most striking features of his massive literary output is its variety of style and the range of audiences that he was capable of addressing. Even during the ten-month period in which he was writing The Old Wives’ Tale, for example, he completed two considerably more commercial novels intended for serialization, Buried Alive (1908) and Helen with the High Hand (1910) – not to mention his other journalistic and theatrical activities.