Publishing is a small world too

Felix Skinner of Lecky, Windrush and Bernstein is, like the happy band of literary scholars in David Lodge’s Small World, no stranger to the academic conference circuit. The firm somehow forgot to send out review copies of Philip Swallow’s book on Hazlitt, which at the start of the novel has sold “a hundred and sixty-five copies a year after publication”. Not bad we might now think.

But these are heady days for academic publishing, and Skinner is enthusiastic about publishing a book based on Persse McGarrigle’s MA thesis.

…the libraries will buy almost anything on either Shakespeare or T.S.Eliot. Having them both in the same title would be more or less irresistible.

After a headlong race from conference to conference (in Ankara, Tokyo, Jerusalem and New York, to name just a few locations), Persse realizes that his future does not lie with either Angelica or Lily Pabst, but rather with the adoring BA check-in attendant, Cheryl Summerbee, who in spite of having a bash at reading The Faerie Queen and Orlando Furioso, really prefers Bills and Moon romances.

David Lodge, Small World, 1984

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