The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure

The Biographical Dictionary of Literary Failure edited by CD Rose

Introduced by Iain Finlayson

Keep a journal, it might help, is the common advice to those in mental and physical distress. For years, Ellery Fortescue persevered with this writing therapy, listing all her symptoms in notebooks. Finally, discerning that her graphomania was itself a symptom rather than a cure, she shredded her notes and immediately felt better.

As C. D. Rose points out, if the death of the author marks the birth of literature, does the death of literature – its loss, or failure – mark the rebirth of the author? In one sad case, both author and literature were lost: having conceived a thousand page plan for a novel and condensed it mentally into a story, Felix Dodge was struck by a fatal aneurysm at the very moment he sat at his Remington Streamliner to write it.

These and many other hapless losses to literature are happily redeemed by this cautionary compendium of unlikely authors and improbable compositions.

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