Renowned author Dan Brown; London’s Gold-Mines

Michael Deacon of the Telegraph writes (2013-05-10):

Renowned author Dan Brown woke up in his luxurious four-poster bed in his expensive $10 million house – and immediately he felt angry. Most people would have thought that the 48-year-old man had no reason to be angry. After all, the famous writer had a new book coming out. But that was the problem. A new book meant an inevitable attack on the rich novelist by the wealthy wordsmith’s fiercest foes. The critics.

I highly recommend the whole thing. The piece is also still up and googleable on the Telegraph website, but they have lots of video ads and a popup that blocks the page if you’re running AdBlock.

Speaking of more ads than content, may I present D’Ordel’s Pantechnicon, subtitled An Universal Directory of the Mechanical Art of Manufacturing Illustrated Magazines; Intended as a Course of Learning for Future Writers; Containing an Account of the Advance of Literature in Modern Times; with a Perfect Model for the Guidance of Students; and Directions Exposing the whole Manual Art of the Trade, and written — excuse me, “edited” — by Mark Sykes and Edmund Sandars (1904). The “perfect model” referred to in the subtitle is Scragford’s Farthing, the very model of a modern literary magazine, which contains such beautiful parody-journalism as the following gripping excerpt from “London’s Gold-Mines, or a Day Among the Dustmen”:

On the 4th of July, 1853, the seventy-seventh anniversary of the Declaration of the Independence of the United States of America, a dustman, whom we will call Robinson, was emptying his cart of dust at one of the great dust shoots of the metropolis, now long disused and probably covered by recent building. He had had a long and fatiguing day at his work, and perhaps may have been more or less anxious to get back to his wife and family — if, that is to say, he enjoyed the advantages of matrimonial life and some tender olive branches.

As the dust fell from his cart he thought that he saw some object glittering in the evening sunlight. He got down from his cart to the ground and walked down the slope of the shoot to the spot where he thought, possibly, the object might have fallen. He groped about in the refuse with the toe of his boot, which was tipped with iron nails, and soon disclosed the bright object which he had really seen. It proved to be a spoon made of Abyssinian gold, a composition closely resembling in appearance the real article. He picked it up between his fingers and examined it with his eyes. Then he put it in his pocket and walked back to his cart. He climbed in…

It really gets worse the closer you look at it. I think my favorite part is where he says “resembling in appearance.”

(The original article is illustrated with copious photographs. Interestingly, the Online Etymology Dictionary dates the word “photojournalism” back only as far as 1944, even though the concept is clearly much older.)

Posted 2018-07-10