23 October 2012

A Melancholy and Disconcerting Business

A. C. Benson, Where No Fear Was (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1914), pp. 94-5:
[A]s a man grows older, as his work stiffens and weakens, he falls out of the race, and he must be content to do so; and he is well advised if he puts his failure down to his own deficiencies, and not to the malice of others. The world is really very much on the look out for anything which amuses, delights, impresses, moves, or helps it; it is quick and generous in recognition of originality and force; and if a writer, as he gets older, finds his books neglected and his opinions disdained, he may be fairly sure that he has said his say, and that men are preoccupied with new ideas and new personalities. Of course this is a melancholy and disconcerting business, especially if one has been more concerned with personal prominence than with the worth and weight of one's ideas; mortified vanity is a sore trial.