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...about the writing of a great book. It is true, of course, that our great novelists have never had for the idea of literature itself that passion which has always burned in the great French ones. Their own art has never seemed to them the most important and interesting thing in life. Also it is true that they have had other occupations--fox- hunting, preaching, editing magazines, what not. Yet to them literature must, as their own main task, have had a peculiar interest and importance.No fine work can be done without concentration and self-sacrifice and toil and doubt.It is nonsense to imagine that our great novelists have just forged ahead or ambled along, reaching their goal, in the good old English fashion, by sheer divination of the way to it. A fine book, with all that goes to the making of it, is as fine a theme as a novelist can have. But it is a part of English hypocrisy- -or, let it be more politely said, English reserve--that, whilst we are fluent enough in grumbling about small inconveniences, we insist on making light of any great... Beerbohm, Sir Max
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