Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Killing Darlings: Authors Who Wished Books Away

Though authors are often encouraged to kill their darlings, there are times when even those responsible for the work want nothing to do with it. io9 pulls out some terrific examples in “10 Great Authors Who Disowned Their Own Books,” which more or less amounts to the same thing.

Many of these will surprise you as will some of the reasoning behind each author’s desire to wish the book gone. For instance, Ian Fleming tried to delegate James Bond to a more minor role in The Spy Who Loved Me. According to io9 “Fleming said he wanted to make Bond’s misogyny apparent after being shocked to discover that his Bond novels were being taught in schools. This ‘experiment,’ Fleming wrote to his publisher after the book received overwhelmingly negative reviews, had ‘obviously gone very much awry,’ and Fleming attempted to keep the book out of print.”

Those who know much about Franz Kafka won’t be surprised to learn that the writer basically hated almost everything he’d done and would have seen it destroyed.
When, a few years before his death, Kafka asked his good friend Max Brod to destroy all his papers, besides the few short works with which Kafka was satisfied, Brod responded, "If you seriously think me capable of such a thing, let me tell you here and now that I shall not carry out your wishes." Nevertheless, when Kafka died he left Brod a letter asking him to destroy his fiction, diaries, and correspondence. Brod remained true to his word: he proceeded to publish everything he could get his hands on.
Other authors whose works are looked at include Octavia Butler, Jeanette Winterson, Anthony Burgess, Martin Amis, Stephen King and others. The piece is here.



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