it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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All over the world, baby. All over the god-damned world.

Writers and publishers and editors are all the same.

I'm reading American writer Jay Higginbotham's Discovering Russia: People and Places, published by the Soviet Union in 1989, about a rail trip Higginbotham got permission to take in 1986, touring the USSR

We join Higginbotham as he has fallen in with a writer's group in Irkutsk. He's talking to a Soviet editor nicknamed "Filip the Great."

"We don't seek to confuse anyone," Filip the Great said. "There's enough confusion in the world already, especially in the publishing business.... Our basic criterion for art is, 'for the good of society.' This is our ideal, and generally we stick to it, even though we sometimes give a broad definition to art because pure entertainment is also good for one's morale, perhaps even good for the soul. But, as I say, sometimes things don't work according to plan. Once, for instance, there was a writer in Vladivostok who wrote a book on China expressing 'eternal friendship.' This was in the late 1950's. But before it could be published, we had our rift with Peking, and he was told to revise his book. He took this task of revision seriously and spent years on it, adding more realism, even subtle insults to make it conform to current realities. Then just as the book was going to press again, there was another shift in relations. The govenrment was going to try to patch things up with Mao and improve relations, therefore we couldn't have a book coming out insulting those we were trying to appease, and the book was withdrawn again. So," Filip sighed, "What do you do in a case like this?"

"You wait until another shift in relations," I said.

"No," he said. "We just paid the writer off. After all, the man had to eat."

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