Friday, January 4, 2013

the last book I ever read (Salman Rushdie's Joseph Anton, excerpt seven)

from Joseph Anton: A Memoir by Salman Rushdie:

When a book leaves its author’s desk it changes. Even before anyone has read it, before eyes other than its creator’s have looked upon a single phrase, it is irretrievably altered. It has become a book than can be read, that no longer belongs to its maker. It has acquired, in a sense, free will. It will make its journey through the world and there is no longer anything the author can do about it. Even he, as he looks at its sentences, reads them differently now that they can be read by others. They look like different sentences. The book has gone out into the world and the world has remade it.

The Satanic Verses had left home. Its metamorphosis, its transformation by its engagement with the world beyond the author’s desk, would be unusually extreme.

Through the writing of the book he had kept a note to himself pinned to the wall above his desk. “To write a book is to make a Faustian contract in reverse,” it said. “To gain immortality, or at least paternity, you lose, or at least ruin, your actual daily life.”

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