Proposals for the state-of-the-art reprint of The End of Intelligent Writing

Commonly regarded as the most prominent of my books of literary criticism/intellectual history, The End of Intelligent Writing (1974) should be reprinted. Widely reviewed at the time, it accumulated an impressive collection of encomia, which I’ve gathered onto four single-spaced sheets. One measure of continued interest in the book is that from time to time I sell a copy for a hundred dollars; long ago, I retrieved the rights. Instead of going the conventional reprint route of offsetting the original edition and then adding a new preface, may I propose the more contemporary possibility of reworking the original text on computer disc, deleting remarks that are no longer relevant nor valid, adding new material in a different typeface, reducing its length, and then retitling the book under its previous subtitle, “The Literary Politics in America.” The result would thus represent a genuine Second Edition to both libraries (which already have many books of mine) and those treasuring the original edition. With sufficient publicity, reviewers might be persuaded to recognize the unprecedented opportunity offered by this new contemporary way of reprinting.

It is commonly said that The End of Intelligent Writing makes genuine contributions to the understanding of the sociology of literary reputation in America, the role of social factors in promoting literary fame, the crisis in book publishing, the power of certain reviewing media, and directions in the literary avant-garde. Though I continue to comment on these issues, this book has the definitive texts upon which my subsequent comments are based. To some printers today, typesetting from disc is cheaper than offsetting pages; and since this new text would be shorter than its predecessor, the publisher would save money in printing as well. (The only person needing to work more would be the author.) Publishers wanting to consider the original text, ideally with this proposal in mind, are invited to contact the author.