Revisiting Old Work

I came across a link to this piece in the Financial Times on Megan Hustad’s blog (warning, tiny but intensely interesting print).

The piece is about a sale last year of works annotated by their authors. Specifically first editions. JK Rowling, Julian Barnes, Seamus Heaney, Tom Stoppard, Ian McEwan, and many, many more luminaries. It was all for PEN, the charity. What’s delicious about it as a writer who’s been ripping up great reams of older writing in the eternal hope to improve something that seemed quite good at the time, is what some of them have said.

“It was an appalling experience in my case,” the novelist John Banville said. “The only thing that I got from it was the opportunity to defile my own book. It’s like peeing all over it. Take that, you swine!”

“My first editions contain lines from which I have to avert my eyes” – Tom Stoppard.

“Am I supposed to be criticising the book saying how much better I’d do it now? Trouble is, I think I peaked.” Helen Fielding.

Lots more at the article itself.