I do not get the logic here: Are his old books better or worst than his new books?
You exaggerate the failures you have had in order that he may realize that life
has its hardships for you too. You refer to your work in the most disparaging way
you can and are a trifle taken aback to find that your host’s opinion of it is the same
as yours. You speak of the fickleness of the public so that he may comfort himself by
thinking that your popularity cannot last. He is a friendly but severe critic.
“I haven’t read your last book,” he says, “but I read the one before. I’ve
forgotten its name.”
You tell him.
“I was rather disappointed in it. I didn’t think it was quite so good as some of
the things you’ve done. Of course you know which my favourite is.”
And you, having suffered from other hands than his, answer at once with the
name of the first book you ever wrote; you were twenty then, and it was crude and
ingenuous, and on every page was written your inexperience.
“You’ll never do anything so good as that,” he says heartily, and you feel that
your whole career has been a long decadence from that one happy hit. “I always
think you’ve never quite fulfilled the promise you showed then.”
The gas fire roasts your feet, but your hands are icy. You look at your wrist
watch surreptitiously and wonder whether your old friend would think it offensive if
you took your leave as early as ten.
Source: Cakes and Ale