Monday, December 29, 2014

Written by Mrs. Bach: Probably “Pure Rubbish”!

In 2011, no less esteemed a firm than HarperCollins published Written by Mrs. Bach, a book that presented the view of Martin Jarvis, a professor at Australia’s Charles Darwin University.  Mr. Jarvis maintained that Anna Magdalena Bach, not Johann Sebastian Bach, who composed the Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello.  His bizarre conjecture has since been produced as a documentary film!

Needless to say, any number of experts have raised serious questions about both the research and the conclusions reached.  Indeed, cellist Steven Isserlis was outspoken:  “Anna Magdalena Bach did not write the Bach suites, any more than Anne Hathaway wrote Shakespeare’s plays, George Henry Lewes wrote George Eliot’s novels, or Freddie Starr ate his friend’s hamster.”  The Isserlis piece appears in The Guardian (29 Oct. 2014):

What bothers me is that such an apparently ill-founded hypothesis has made its way into print and subsequently to film.  How?  Are today’s publishers so desperately thirsty for what might once have been deemed a National Enquirer scoop that they must jump over such a wild hypothesis?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

An Exception to the Rule?

Rachel Donadio recently wrote an article about Elena Ferrante (cf. The New York Review of Books 1 December 2014).  This piece is of interest because it ran contrary to so much of the prevailing trend in publishing.

These days writers are often encouraged to spend more time marketing themselves than they spend writing.  Many editors are more concerned with a prospective author’s “platform” (i.e., Internet presence – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) and marketing plan than whether he/she can actually write.  Without “followers,” one is effectively assumed dead-on-arrival.

By contrast, “Ferrante is a pseudonym, has no public presence, has never been seen, gives her a strange place in Italy, a country obsessed with image, where if you aren’t on television, you barely exist.”  Wow!