“Samuel Butler, for instance, remarks that if you write for posterity you are bound to be misunderstood in the present”: Gillian Beer

Dame Gillian Beer

Dame Gillian Beer

In her essay “Imagining posterity, then and now”. published in Issue 5 of InterlitqDame Gillian Beer, the literary critic who is a Consulting Editor for Interlitq, states with regard to Samuel Butler, the English author who died today in history, 18 June, 1902:

“The nineteenth-century awkwardly prophetic writer Samuel Butler, for instance, remarks that if you write for posterity you are bound to be misunderstood in the present. In writing for posterity you may be writing solely for yourself. The notion of posterity justifies what is simply an ideolect. Your peers can’t challenge posterity. The artist, or the politician, can claim renown, delayed. So ‘posterity’ has been an important trope for poets since the Renaissance and in the Romantic period. It can be boast or defence.”

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