Philip Marchand has a piece at the National Post about a new book, This is Not the End of the Book: A Conversation Curated by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, that would probably irritate me (“the spectacle of two European intellectuals exchanging aperçus”), but I found this thought-provoking:
A more interesting question, posed by de Tonnac, is whether “an unknown masterpiece might still be discovered.” Eco’s response is similar to the comments of the late critic Hugh Kenner. Kenner pointed out that if a copy of the Iliad turned up for the first time today it would arouse an archeological curiosity but little more. Eco agrees. “A masterpiece isn’t a masterpiece until it is well known and has absorbed all the interpretations to which it has given rise, which in turn make it what it is,” he says. “An unknown masterpiece hasn’t had enough readers, or readings, or interpretations.”
I realize this is Postmodernism 101, and many of my readers are rolling their eyes and sighing loudly, but I hadn’t seen it put quite that way before, and, well, it provokes me to think. (Thanks, Paul!)
By the way, I got myself a new laptop with all mod cons, so my computer troubles are (pro tempore) over; I apologize for my failure to show up with the drinks tray and my usual charming repartee for the last few days. At least I kept the salesmen away.