From the Old Masters

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OJd master Goethe said in hij Divan, Hafis Nameh II, poem 10:

"Und doch baben sie recht, die ich schelte: Denn dass ein Wort nicht einfach gelte. Das muesste sich wohl von selbst verstehn."

In this portion will be found a conglomeration of man's thought and ideas; only a few will understand these matters, many will have a. hard time to grasp them unless they learn to gradually, educate themselves to read between the Tines.

The "reading between the lines" is just what Goethe referred to In the above short verse, to which several mote lines had been added by him which shall be given later on, so as to round out the thought and give a clear picture of what Goetfce actually had been referring to when, he wrote them.

The translation:

"And yet, they ate right, those whom I try to correct: That a word does not always mean just one thing, Should be understood by anyone who reads."

Upn this great truth all our classics were written. We may begin with the "Book of the Dead" of the ancient Egyptians, then go over to the ancient Greek works of Hesiod, Ovid, Homer, then to the great Latin writers, Cicero, Livy, Marc Aurcl; then to the Fritjof Saga, to the Chinese writers such as Confucius; then to Dante's works, to all the great French writers, Mol i ire, Dumas, pere et fils, to Balsac, then to our own great writers, Tennyson, Emerson,, also to the English classics of Bacon, Shakespeare and so forth.

AH of these works have been? produced many years ago and yet .they are read in every home, In every school of higher learning an¿ this throughout che world.

These works had to be translated into all kinds of languages. Nearly every such translation carries a notice at the beginning of the book saying: This is a literal translation, meaning that no thought, idea or suggestion on the part of the translator's own views has been allowdd, and rightly so, as I shall illustrate later on.

When we compare these ancient works with products of modern times, just from one single point of view, that of salability, we note even though some new book may have sold within a few months a million copies, that every Tom, Dick and Harry buys it, wants it, reads it, talks about it—the story contained therein oftentimes is even filmed—we find that usually within one year its heat and pep is completely exhausted. It becomes a shelf-warmer of the book store and only once in a while a late-comer asks for a copy.

The fancy price obtained at the start gives way to a "quarter" issue, until finally the book will not even sell at 25 cents and is sold out for a song as "remainder".


Let us glance at some of the writers' books mentioned above, aside of others, belonging to the same group, but not mentioned, as yet. We pick an average example: the works of Shakespeare. We find sets of Shakespeare in every bookstore, be it a score that carries new books or be it a second hand bookstore.- We find his works in sees or in single volumes.- We can obtain them in leather bindings with gold trimming.- We can buy them in plain or plainer editions. Even nickel issues are available in paper covers. This demand is not recent, but has been going on evec since Shakespeare's works appeared, as can be easily verified when you go to the local library and examine the various editions of Shakespeare of recent or past origin.

Heinrich Heine's works, known the world over, were publicly burned at stake several yeats ago as well as his monument at Hamburg destroyed, by a group of narrow-minded German "clear the deck of Jews" propoganda artists. The works of Fn'edrich Nietsche, especially his Zarathustra which deals with the Super-Man, is said to have been the yard-stick of the Hitler regime. Yes, I now make the statement, chat both writers arc basically one.* So are all the ocher writers mentioned previously, adding to them the names of authors contained in "Bohn's Classical Library" which specializes in the Masters Works.

The difference between the works of the masters and those of amateurs can be shortly explained as follows:

The masters had something and knew of something which caused cheir writings to be read and reread by the world-at-Iarge. Amateurs only write and write and write; sometimes they "grow" a good seller, many a time they produce a dud. Was this due to the subject they wrote about? Was it due to their name being well known? Was It due to an energetic publisher who pushed them along? and their ware?. Ox was it due to some unknown Time Element, of which the masters took advantage, which Time Element produces or creates permanency and constant reproduction? It was the 'when' to write which they knew.

The masters' successes to be known world-wide, to be bought sooner or later by most any reader, was not due to the subject, about which they wroce. This, we soon discover, since the subject matter of their works is spread, into all sorts of fields, poems, stories, scientific works, such as Goethe's work "On Colors", the Children's Stories of Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Rattenfaenger von Hamelri.

Swedenborg's works, which comprise some 50 volumes of the edition in my possession, treats mostly of religious subjects, although, he had written several medical works, aside from other subject. His works also belong to the class of the masters, going even so fat that some starred a religious sect based upon his writings.

•This should show clearly ihar Adolf is not surrounded by astrologers n-ho "know" or ihe Heine book burning affair would have never happened!

If someone would say: "Theft name wss well known"! does he known that during the first rear after the pubiication of Swedenborg's "Celestial Arcana" which he had printed at hii own expense, at Amsterdam, the publisher sold but three copies? I judge roughly that now-a-days between ten and twenty thousand copies ace sold each year. Balzac's works used to be published in Paris magazines, here a storr, there another, and only later his sales increased.

Speaking of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chinese or Latin works, of ancient German works, such as the Nibelungen Lied, we know printing was not invented until the fifteenth century; therefore each of those works had to be written in long hand and the quantities which could be produced prior to that invention are evident. We have to say; they had a small beginning, and only gtew later on.

ABOUT MODERN BOOKS With modem books the situation seems to be just the reverse: the majority of books produced now-a-days, especially of poetry, reach near friends of the authors to decorate their library shelves—seJdom to be even read. A small part may obtain temporary distribution for a month or two and, were it not for outside aid, I mean with the aid of the powerful radio, of magazine and newspaper advertising, they would still die an earlier death.

It would be quite interesting for you to pass an hour or two at "nickel and tea cents counters of used book stores" and verify titles, dates of publication and names of authors, then you can judge for yourself.

ABOUT MAGAZINES In a nearby town of 5,000 inhabitants a magazine dealer had accumulated in one single year fifty tons of unsold magazines, yes, fifty tons of magazines which, as we alJ know, sold on news stands thai one year from ten cents to one full dollar per oirnce. 1 always keep eyes and ears open for unusual conditions. Do you know how many sales dollars "had been" inside of one ton of these magazines? Hot much freight or express charges had been paid by the publishers two or three thousand miles away. How many hands had worked to produce these fifteen dollars a ton worth of waste?

With magazines, as well as with newspapers, the sales are immediate. A week or so later they are practically unsalable.

Newspapers and magazines have a big name. A million or more copies are printed for each issue. Were it not for constant reproduction—not of the same thing—but of current events or current stories, which interest nobody a few days later, they would have to close.

In days gone by I have seen movies how stories about crimes found their way to the editors of newspapers the fastest way to be printed and be "news". "Hot off the wire", the-y say, once in a while, when the radio trumpets news into your home. Usually, these radio announcers talk so fast when telling their news story thac they fall over their own words and, unfortunately, I have to listen, once in a while, to a nearby radio station and its news commentator. That man makes so many mistakes reading his copy that I have asked myself how he ever got along in grammar school.

BOOKS AND OTHER BOOKS We can no»- for the first time recognize, somewhat, though nor completely, where the difference lies between something printed that has a lasting effect and something that fades oat quickly.

A good book takes the fight time and much time. An ephemeral book takes any time and little time. This does not imply that writers of ephemeral books do not spend many days, week and months towards writing that which they expect everybody to read. The same is true of writers, whose books the publishers advertise heavily as "their best sellers". The purpose of advertising is to persuade the public to open their purse strings and to storm bookshops everywhere.

With an ephemeral book the slogan seems to be: Quick, get what you can and repeat this procedure often.

The reader, of course, is expected to act the very same way. He is supposed to buy right to-day, right now. He is supposed to read the book quickly, and be done with it, so that he can start with another.

On this subject J could tell much, especially since my good friend B., a book dealer finds me hanging around once in a while in his store, staring, seemingly, however, trying to size up the psychology of book buyers, young and old, army boys or civilians. A few cases observed shall be brought as and if they help to illustrate certain ideas as we go on.

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