Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Apparently Samuel Johnson said that it takes a hundred years for a writer's reputation to jell, because you have to wait for the writer's influential friends and all their followers to die.  

This makes sense to me.  After a hundred years only the creative work (of any kind) itself is left - it either remains interesting or not.  A hundred years is about three generations, time for a fashion to go out of style, to return in granny-liked-it nostalgia, then for that quaintness to fade and the work at last to stand or fall on real merit.  

Occasionally, in that hundred years a work or artist will be anointed as "classic" or "historically important" and this can disguise for a while the fading of public interest. 

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds - public domain with addition

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