I’m still fuming about losing yesterday’s post on the twelve books that influenced me. I’ve noticed that when such things have happened to me in the past that the rewrite is frequently better than the original, but it doesn’t make it any easier actually doing the rewrite.
Victorian virtues may attract only mirth these days, but on occasions such as this I always think of the example of 19th century historian Thomas Carlyle: having spent six years completing the manuscript of his magnum opus ‘The French Revolution’ he loaned the only copy of volume one to his friend John Stuart Mill to read.
Five days later an ashen-faced Mill confessed to his friend that his housemaid had accidentally consigned the thing to the flames to warm the house. Crushed but resolute – “Mill, poor fellow, is terribly cut up. We must endeavour to hide from him how very serious this business is for us” -- Carlyle set to work immediately to rewrite the book which was to become a classic. The revised volume was “different, perhaps better” reflected a sober Carlyle. Thank goodness he didn’t have to reproduce all the footnotes he would be expected to today!
So in the spirit of Carlyle I will resurrect the list of my own twelve or so inspirational books, a day at a time and in roughly the order in which I encountered them. Starting tomorrow.
Can you guess what the first one was?