Fan sends 80s Nobel prizewinning book to modern publishers to make an important point about the book industry

Claude Simon's 1985 work The Palace was deemed 'endlessly long' by modern publishers

Clarisse Loughrey@clarisselou
Wednesday 13 December 2017 09:29

A literary fan has conducted a damning experiment.

Writer Serge Volle sent 50 pages of French author Claude Simon's 1962 novel The Palace, set during the Spanish civil war, to 19 French publishers under the guise of being fresh material.

12 outright rejected the book, while seven never replied, despite the fact that Simon won the Nobel prize for literature in 1985, Volle told French public radio on Monday (via The Guardian).

One editor claimed in a rejection letter that the book's "endlessly long sentences completely lose the reader", and that it failed to have a "real plot with well-drawn characters". He declined to state which publishers he had sent the extract to.

Simon is often identified with the nouveau roman movement, which explicitly experimented with literary styles and saw Simon particularly noted for his wandering prose, with sentences that went on for several pages a noted feature of his most acclaimed work, 1981's The Georgics.

Volle, 70, claimed the rejections exemplified degrading standards in publishing, "abandoning literary works that are not easy to read or that will not set sales records". Paraphrasing Marcel Proust, he added that you must already be "famous to be published. We are living in the era of the throwaway book".

It's worth noting, however, that a number of major French publishers originally rejected The Georgics, and The Palace stands as one of Simon's most controversial works, with many critics interpreting it as a thinly-veiled attack on British author George Orwell.

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