Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Headmaster Ritual




You would have thought that Steven Patrick Morrissey had asked Penguin if they could arrange for him to share a bed with Pippa Middleton rather than publish his long awaited autobiography as a 'Penguin Classic'.

The vitriol aimed at the master of self-publicity has been quite startling but then just as it was about to boil over into personal attacks on the quality of his singing and lyrics the penny dropped, the light bulbs went off over heads of critics. Hold on, this shouldn't be about an artist demanding that his work be released into the wide world as he wants, heaven forbid that the owner of intellectual property should have any say in the matter, this is about Penguin sullying the name, the trademark of an institution. Well as we all know institutions like 'traditions' tend not to be either institutions or traditions but simply a way that those among us who think they know 'better' can subjugate us and brow beat us into believing that because something has existed for longer than the memory span of a goldfish it should be preserved, regardless of importance in a wider context.

Penguin Classics first saw the light of day in 1946, yes that's just sixty seven years ago. Now I know that in modern journalist parlance that makes it positively ancient but come on, it isn't. Adding a title to the  Classics' imprint doesn't make it a classic, the term is subjective. Morrissey has managed to wangle his way onto a list that includes Homer (no, not Simpson), Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Darwin, Zola (no, not the Watford manager) and he's having a big laugh at the critics, sticking his middle finger up at those who think we are all going to hell in a handcart by enjoying popular culture.

Telegraph and Independent critics get quite frothy before calming down.

As an aside I actually think that the cover design looks great.

8 comments:

Span Ows said...

Not sure if my other comment will show up, think it got lost in the ether: what I said was great picture, classy cover but poor name! ...bad or super original (or both!)

Paul said...

Yes - I think he might be trying too hard!

A Northern Bloke said...

Homer, Aristotle, Julius Caesar, Darwin, Zola and Morrissey : which of these will still be read in a hundred years?

This, I think, makes an interesting question.

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