Leading article: Shock of the new

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The Independent Online

Those who enjoy "new" works from old artistic masters are being rather spoiled at the moment. This week they have had a previously unpublished poem by Ted Hughes on the death of his wife, Sylvia Plath. Meanwhile, a lost concerto score by Vivaldi has turned up in Scotland.

Such discoveries inspire thoughts of what other classic artistic oeuvres could do with a bit of augmentation. Only seven of Sophocles' estimated 123 plays survive. A few more would be a sensation. Another Mozart symphony would surely add to the sum of human happiness. And a lost Fawlty Towers episode would be a delight.

But sometimes less is more. Consider those artists who did not do too little, but too much. The world could probably have lived without Francis Ford Coppola's third Godfather film. The late works of an increasingly conservative William Wordsworth do not match the genius of his early years. Michael Jackson ought to have quit while he was still at the top of the pop tree.

We naturally welcome the appearance of fresh works by great masters. But wouldn't it be rather nice if some old horrors occasionally disappeared, too?