A favor de las cofradías
Mientras la mayoría de personas se emociona por la "democratización" de la literatura impuesta por los blogs literarios y su inmediatez y globalización, una solitaria comentarista británica rompe una lanza por las tertulias y los té literarios, los salones y los grupos, cofradías o camarillas al estilo Bloomsbury. ¿Habremos perdido el nivel de discusión y la calidad de los argumentos expuestos al favorecer la inmediatez del "comment" y el clic? A juzgar por los comentarios que leo a diario en los blogs literarios, es obvio que sí. Lean el final del post de Shirley Dent y digan si no es absolutamente cierto.
Dice el post: "Sarfraz Manzoor's recent Comment is free article pinpointed the pitfalls of blogging for writers, particularly the comment board, with its alarmingly instant and direct verdicts on your output. How times change! Once upon a time writers tended to cloak themselves with a carefully cultivated aura of exclusivity, quietly confident in the elite sophistication of the company they kept. Coleridge rejoiced when he moved to Stowey and found in Wordsworth "an invaluable blessing in the society and neighbourhood of one to whom I could look up with equal reverence, whether I regarded him as a poet, a philosopher or a man". The blogosphere has blown such quiet literary communion out of the water - the power of the clique has given way to the power of the click. And, many would hasten to add, not a moment too soon. These literary cliques with their snobbish posturing, recondite shenanigans, and incestuous self-congratulation do nothing but silt up the founts of literary pleasure for the rest of us. Arch literary cliques such as the Bloomsberries seem to have gone out of their way to confirm and consolidate their image as a bunch of posh people pontificating. Oscar Wilde, on the other hand, wasn't having any of it and declared, "I have always had grave suspicions that the basis of all literary cliques is a morbid love of meat teas. That makes them sadly uncivilised." Not so nowadays: it's down with meat-tea literary love-ins, and up with the masses on the mouse. Hurrah, I hear you shout!
Such empathy of minds and attitudes necessarily excludes some people. Too bad. There is a painful and all too recognisable truth in Benjamin Haydon's description of an interloper at his "immortal dinner", the occasion on which Wordsworth met Keats. Where the company of poets and like-minded individuals had been enjoying "a frank, natural license, such as one sees in an act of Shakespeare, every man expressing his natural emotions without fear", the entrance of a pompous bureaucrat from the Stamp Office begins to spoil everything when he arrives "frilled, dressed, and official, with a due awe of the powers above him and a due contempt for those beneath him". The convivial conversation of the clique is not just a matter of idle chit-chat. Mary Shelley in her preface to Frankenstein tells us that the tale came about as a result of "casual conversation" with "society which cannot cease to be regretted", referring to the summer of 1816 in Villa Diodati with Shelley and Byron. The result was a landmark in literature. That's when you know a clique is more than a vicious circle of bitching and backstabbing - when it looks and speaks out to world with new and inspiring ideas. "