Writers who burned their works
This may be a gross misconception, but from a literary perspective, it seems somewhat erroneous and even painful to ask many authors to burn unfinished works after their death. A striking example of this error is the case of Franz Kafka, who ordered his literary agent to destroy all unfinished works after his death. Fortunately for readers, the word given to the writer was broken, and the world saw the entire literary legacy of the great writer. Like Kafka, Vladimir Nabokov also bequeathed to burn his unfinished works, but his wife and son could not fulfill the Creator’s will. There is no doubt that for readers any burned work is a huge loss, but if the will of the Creator bequeathed the manuscript just such a fate, then the execution must be brought directly by the hand of its Creator.
1. nikolay gogol
This writer is in the first row, because the tragic fate of the second part of “Dead souls” does not know unless a baby. The great Russian writer was surrounded all his life by an aura of mystery and devilish mysticism, but Gogol himself was hardly ready to give his creation to fire. But only until a fanatical priest convinced Gogol of the sinfulness of his work, which leads its Creator to a complete loss of decency. In a fit of inexplicable attack, Nikolai Gogol destroyed the draft recording that contained the second part of “Dead souls”. This can hardly be explained otherwise than by devilish conduct. Unfortunately, two weeks after this event, the writer himself died.
2. Gerard Manley Hopkins
The English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins was another creative person whose religious views contrasted sharply with his literary experience. It all started with the fact that During Lent he stopped composing poems, but later, as a Jesuit priest, in a fit of religious turmoil, he not only renounced poetry, but also burned a huge number of his early works. Unfortunately, the reader never saw much of his work, but as Umberto Eco said, a great poet should burn his early poems, not try to publish them.
3. James Joyce
While many authors are subject to religious experiences that push them to destroy their works, there are a number of writers who are willing to take this step solely because of their aesthetic beliefs. For example, James Joyce became so disillusioned with his autobiographical novel “Hero Stephen” after 20 rejections that the only sensible use for him was to give fire. But at this moment, as if at the behest of an invisible Supreme force, the writer’s wife, Nora, appeared on the scene and, at the risk of her health, extracted her husband’s manuscript from the flames. Later, this draft was significantly revised, and the final version of the novel was called “Portrait of the artist in his youth”.
4. Robert Louis Stevenson
If the wife of James Joyce helped him save his work in the literal sense, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson helped her husband in the spiritual sense. In the early stages of creating a new work, Stevenson often resorted to the help of his wife, and she, in turn, believed that the draft version of the novel “the Strange story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was written in the “wrong” style, that is, applied an overly literal approach to the allegorical in form and content of the story.
Sick and bedridden, Stevenson was horrified that his own hand had thrown the draft into the fire. He called his wife and asked her to bring him the ashes – all that remained of the story. But if, in the case of Joyce, his idea was partially preserved on paper, Stevenson kept it completely in his head. Thanks in part to the stimulating effects of medication, he restored the manuscript in less than a week.
5. Otessa Moshfegh
We have already discussed the religious and aesthetic reasons for the destruction of written works, but how many writers burned their works for the sake of survival? There is at least one example. Otessa Moshfegh, who temporarily abandoned her life in Manhattan for the privacy of an old cabin in Maine, was left without wood for the stove one cold night. In order not to die from the cold, she had to burn some of her works. Perhaps this is just an exaggeration, and it is unlikely that the writer would say goodbye to life, but this is certainly a rare case when the author burns manuscripts out of a sense of physical necessity. Fortunately, Otessa had enough time and inspiration to recreate the draft version from which the work “A Dark and Winding Road”was born.