Tuesday, 30 March 2010
What is the connection between Ray Bradbury and Robert Pirsig? We tend to think of Pirsig’s novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) as having a title of unique quirky brilliance. But it drew for inspiration on a whole corpus of earlier books, many of which had been extremely well-known and successful. They included Zen in the Art of Archery (Eng trans. 1953) by Eugen Herrigel, a German philosophy professor who popularized Zen in the West; Zen in the Art of Flower Arrangement (Eng trans. 1958) by Gustie Herrigel; Zen in the Art of Photography (1969) by Robert Leverant; and several others. These are all ‘Zen in’ rather than ‘Zen and’ titles: but Pirsig was not first in this either, since Ray Bradbury had written an influential and frequently-anthologized essay on the craft of fiction, ‘Zen and the Art of Writing’, as long before as 1958.
Posted by Gary at 11:32
Thursday, 4 March 2010
The Good Soldier was published in the middle of the First World War, in 1915, and its title has misled many into thinking it is a tale of the trenches. It is not, of course: it is a story of romantic love and betrayal, set (and written) before the outbreak of war. The title came about by means of testy remark of its author. Ford’s original title was The Saddest Story, but his publishers felt that in wartime this would be a drug on the market, and asked for an alternative. Ford wrote back ironically: ‘Why not call the book “A Roaring Joke”? Or call it anything you like, or perhaps it would be better to call it “A Good Soldier” — that might do.’ In 1915 nothing was selling better than books about the war, and, to Ford’s ‘horror’, his publishers took up the suggestion. Ford saw that the real subject of the book had been entirely leached out; it was only partially restored by a new subtitle, A Tale of Passion.
Max Saunders: Ford Madox Ford: Volume I: The World Before the War (1996)
See a clickable index of all titles covered
Posted by Gary at 01:40