‘Playing at Treason with Miss Maud Gonne’: Yeats and his Publishers in 1900



Why do you choose to suffer? You find your subject, you wear out your wits over it with toiling at night, you throw your very life into it; and after all your journeyings into the field of thought, the monument reared with your life-blood is simply a good or a bad speculation for a publisher. Your work will sell or it will not sell; and therein, for them, lies the whole question. A book means so much capital at risk, and the better the book the less likely it is to sell. A man of talent rises above the level of ordinary heads; his success varies in direct ratio with the time required for his work to be appreciated. And no publisher wants to wait. Today’s book must be sold by to-morrow. Acting on this system, publishers and booksellers do not care to take real literature, books that call for the high praise that comes slowly.


Literary Agent Modernist Writer Literary Adviser Irish Prisoner Unpublished Letter 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

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