Sputnik columnist Neil Clark doet een boekje open op de Russische site ‘Sputnik’ (23.10.2017) over het Cheltenham Literaire Festival
‘Hillary Clinton’s recent appearance at the Times/HSBC/Waterstones-sponsored Cheltenham Literary Festival, where she urged the west to “get tough” on Putin, Russia and its media outlets, was proof once again that these UK “festivals” have little to do with promoting great writing, but quite a lot to do with promoting neocon geopolitical narratives.
The world of UK “literary festivals” is an incredibly cliquey one — open to a certain approved few — an upper ‘caste’ of well-connected “Inside the Tenters,” who can be sure to say the right things, whether its bashing Russia (de rigeur in 2017), or calling for “regime-change” in Syria.
Don’t Call Us, We Call You!
The trick, if you want to dine at the high table, is to be a politically correct, holier-than-thou virtue-signaling “liberal” on domestic issues and a pro-war “liberal interventionist” hawk on foreign policy. Then you’ll have the big literary agencies fighting over themselves to gain the rights to your latest “masterpiece,” and have a standing invitation to all the “best” book events.
Speakers/performers this year included the Establishment-friendly but woefully unfunny comedians Robert Webb and Al Murray; the ludicrously pretentious windbag Salman Rushdie — (has anyone, hand on heart, ever finished a book he has written?), and the former MI5 Director General Dame Stella Rimington.
If that wasn’t bad enough, how about the latest “literary festival” at Cliveden, which was truly beyond parody. Described as “Britain’s poshest new festival” by the Daily Telegraph, the event — earlier in October — was the brainchild of billionairess Natalie Livingstone, the new “lady of the manor.” Those who paid a mere £170 (US$224) for a weekend ticket could attend a panel discussion on “Russia 1917-2017” with Simon Sebag Montefiore, Victor Sebestyen, Anne Applebaum — and Radek Sikorski, the hawkish former Foreign Minister of Poland, who is Applebaum’s husband.
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For all the talk about the UK being a “meritocratic society,” the upper echelons of British publishing are more of a closed shop than they were a hundred years ago. Back in the 1920s it was possible for a man like Edgar Wallace, an illegitimate son of an impecunious traveling actress, who had left school at the age of 11, to become the country’s best selling-novelist. In my biography of Wallace, Stranger Than Fiction, I tell his incredible rags-to-riches story. The sad truth is that the phenomenon of Edgar Wallace, “The Man Who Made his Name,” simply wouldn’t happen today — as publishing is now far too cliquey. From my own experience, I know that the old British baronets who used to run publishing houses were far less elitist than today’s self-styled “democrats.”
The situation in the British “book world” is absolutely dire, but the good news is that a backlash against “literary festivals” and their exclusivity has begun.
In 2015, novelist Joanna Trollope claimed they valued “celebrity above writing,” and said she preferred going to more egalitarian events on the continents. She also criticized the trend for bringing in “stars” from America — is that just to get bums on seats or is it to keep the CIA happy? Who knows?’
Hillary Rodham Clinton discusses ‘What Happened?’ at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017.
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TRUTHSERIES Published on Oct 16, 2017