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Mehrdad
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
Aug 27, 2020 10:20 AM
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Answers · 5
The simple answer is both, or it's subjective. The narrator believes his first book was: "crude and ingenuous, and on every page was written your inexperience". Clearly they believe their writing has greatly improved since then and the later books are better. His friend, however, loved the first book: "You’ll never do anything so good as that". Has not read the latest one and didn't like the one before that: - "I haven’t read your last book,” he says, “but I read the one before." - "I was rather disappointed in it." His friend believes that he: "never quite fulfilled the promise you showed then" (in the first book). So, the narrator thinks his first book was badly written. This implies that he thinks the latter books are better. His friend liked the first book - probably for other reasons that the writing quality - and has been less impressed by a more recent one. They disagree on which ones are best.
August 27, 2020
He is saying that her (the main character) first book was the only good one and nothing after it has been to his liking. The fact that she knows immediately which book he's referring to implies that many others share the same opinion, and it was likely her only book that has been successful.
August 27, 2020
As a side note, it's "better or worse"; not "better or worst". The words "better" and "worse" are comparative while the words "best" and "worst" are superlatives. In this case, you're making a comparison between his old books and his new books, so you would utilize "worse".
August 27, 2020
Mehrdad
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English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Persian (Farsi), Russian, Spanish
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