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Book and Film Discussions > Would Shakespeare or Tolstoy be able to find an agent in modern times?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments They enjoy worldwide fame and worship as renowned literary classics, however if they'd come up with their stuff currently as unknown aspiring authors I'm not sure their ascend to glory might be that rosy. What do you think?


message 2: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7098 comments My guess is that Tolstoy would have had a fine career in international finance brokering oil and gas deals for Rosneft, while Shakespeare would have taken his Harvard m.b.a and phd in marketing to wallstreet where he would have made millions as a spin-doctor for the major wall street banks.

But, that's just a guess.


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Graeme Rodaughan wrote: "My guess is that Tolstoy would have had a fine career in international finance brokering oil and gas deals for Rosneft, while Shakespeare would have taken his Harvard m.b.a and phd in marketing to ..."

-:)
Nice, if that's the destiny you outline for them, not sure they'd agree to board a time-travel machine though when a timeway line reaches their respective epochs -:)
What if they decided to write something in their downtime? Would they be able to upload their stuff to retailers and procure a nice cover and blurb?


message 4: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7098 comments Nik - now you're making me think (...).

OK. Yes - talent, skill and persistence together will win through.

The above gentleman have all three.


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Tolstoy would be rejected for exceeding 100,000 words. Shakespeare would have trouble for flowery language.


message 6: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Ian wrote: "Tolstoy would be rejected for exceeding 100,000 words. Shakespeare would have trouble for flowery language."

They might cancel now their time travel tickets -:)


message 7: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7098 comments Ian wrote: "Tolstoy would be rejected for exceeding 100,000 words. Shakespeare would have trouble for flowery language."

Heaps of books above 100K

Including new books.


message 8: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7098 comments Assuming Shakespear is young enough to adapt.

We're talking start of their career for both men when offered time travel.


message 9: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Graeme Rodaughan wrote: "Assuming Shakespear is young enough to adapt.

We're talking start of their career for both men when offered time travel."


Yep, otherwise they'd come to reap the glory. For the sake of experiment we need them virgin in literary activity -:)


message 10: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Graeme, you try to get a newbie an agent with a 300,000 word novel. If you read the advice many agents give you will see that they say they cannot sell a book to a publisher from an unknown over 100,000 words. The problem is the publishers have no idea whether a book will take off or be returned, and so they keep the costs down. Stephen King can write whatever he likes and it gets published because the publishers know they can sell hundreds of thousands of copies sight unseen.


message 11: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments Shakespeare wasn't an "author," he wrote for the stage. If he were writing today, he'd probably write musicals. Given the proliferation of these obnoxious musicals, I wouldn't doubt he would enjoy the same success today. Don't forget, Shakespeare wrote for his time and we see him adapt to his audience. After all, Macbeth was written to please the new king, so he wasn't even above a little pandering.


message 12: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments I am not so sure about pandering. It was customary at the time to give the aristocracy what they wanted, or what was politically correct. Just look at the dedications of classical composers. It was the standard way of getting an income.


message 13: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 104 comments If Shakespeare wrote plays/musicals for Broadway, and you could get any ticket you wanted regardless of price or availability, but you could only get ONE pair of tickets...

Would you go see one of the new plays/musicals Shakespeare crafted while visiting our time, or would you go see "Hamilton"?

That is the question.


message 14: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments I am not convinced Shakespeare would have any real talent for a modern musical. Maybe a film score would be more to is taste. Even now, people make films based on King Lear - I am sure he could do better than those adaptations, but whether he would get through the door is another question.


message 15: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2112 comments Ian wrote: "I am not convinced Shakespeare would have any real talent for a modern musical. Maybe a film score would be more to is taste. Even now, people make films based on King Lear - I am sure he could do ..."

I think you only say that because you don't get to see the ads for all the "musicals" out there...the new thing now is to pump out musical after musical about some 50s or 60s boyband which I think is supposed to appeal to the Babyboomers. I think it's an excuse to fill their "musical" with existing and familiar songs so the "writer" doesn't have to actually write original material.

Maybe Shakespeare writing a Broadway musical could be debatable, but he would have no problem getting an off-Broadway production off the ground these days.


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) Agents would get headaches from Shakespeare's language and ego alone nevermind anything else. Sure the content is remarkable but would an agent be able to get over the first two things? Doubtful.


message 17: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments What I think many forget is the deluge of submissions to agents. I gather each one gets about 30,000 a year, and they give any submission a maximum of 30 seconds, unless something catches their eye. Even then they would take no more than two newbies a year. The one exception is the agent starting up, because they need someone to represent, but even then, the take the nearest they can find to the "average selling author". The odds are very long.


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments If Shakes & Tolst were contemporary indie authors, instead of renowned classics, would they'd be able to sell enough ebooks for a living? ":)


message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Tolstoi would never get an agent. I gather agents reject anything outright if it is over 120 k words from a newbie. War and Peace, or Anna Karenina would go straight to reject as too weighty. Hard to know about Shakes. Plays are rather difficult to get put on anyway, but then again there aren't many playwriters. Movies? Could he get past Hollywood? Who knows?


message 20: by Neil (new)

Neil Carstairs | 53 comments Shakespeare would probably get a job as a staff writer on a soap.


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Hmmm, Coro St with eyes plucked out! Different, if nothing else.


message 22: by Fiona (new)

Fiona Hurley (fiona_hurley) Shakespeare always had an eye for what sold well. Painting Richard III as an arch-villain and therefore show the Tudors in a good light, adding witches to Macbeth to appeal to James I, and of course all those dirty jokes.

He would probably be writing for movies or TV nowadays.


message 23: by Rhuff (new)

Rhuff | 1 comments Totally different literary cultures. Secular writers of any kind were rare in Shakespeare's day - hence the legend that Shakespeare was a nom-de-plum for a collective of playwrights. Tolstoy wrote for a literate elite: he too didn't have much competition. Now anyone with a 2-year creative writing degree believes he's an "author" and fires off brainstorms to besieged agencies. Like the high school pretty girls, they have to say no to most and dream of Mr. "Write."


message 24: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments If you're asking if, possessing the same talent, they could make it as writers in today's market, I'd say Shakespeare would be as popular today as he was in his time. He knew how to write for his audience using their vernacular and love for story; using humor and pathos. And using language in a way that makes you know how beautiful it is. Tolstoy might have a problem, as he would expect too much of today's readers, and an editor would (rightly) cut half of what he wrote.


message 25: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Come come, Scout. Delete "rightly".


message 26: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments Okay, maybe a third, Ian. Have you slogged through War and Peace?


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments I have read "War and Peace" and "Anna Karenina" - in the English translations, of course, and I enjoyed both of them.


message 28: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments Of course :-)


message 29: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 2936 comments Scout wrote: "Okay, maybe a third, Ian. Have you slogged through War and Peace?"

I'm with you on half :-)


message 30: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments :-)


message 31: by Gary (new)

Gary Allen, PhD (gallen6) | 22 comments Agree with Scout’s comments.


message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Am I the only one who likes Tolstoy?


message 33: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 13129 comments Tolstoy fans, please, report for duty :) Out of 51 views of this thread, should be at least a few more


message 34: by Papaphilly (last edited Jan 14, 2020 05:37PM) (new)

Papaphilly | 2484 comments I think Leo Tolstoy would find an audience in the intelligentsia. He would be published, but in the high end serious literature.

William Shakespeare has been published continually since 1592. Yes, I think he would be published and have a very good career.


message 35: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments I'd agree with that.


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments Tut tut. Before long someone will assign me to the intelligentsia :-)


message 37: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments Consider yourself assigned, Ian :-) It seems we'll not agree on this one, my friend.


message 38: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 2936 comments I'd assigned Ian there quite a while ago after trying to understand one of his very interesting posts with lots of chemistry I think.

I've read some Tolstoy and hated it especially War and Peace. Then again I do not like Dickens either. I do like Shakespeare or I should say the plays I have watched I have liked despite the couplets and the language use not being modern. I thought the language style was the reason I did not like Dickens or Tolstoy, but it was not the reading it was the boredom with the characters and plot. Dickens had to have ridiculous character names just to make his stories mildly amusing or to deflect from tens of pages of rubbish. Personal opinion obviously.

NB: They are missing of my Read list as I have not put all the books I read in my teens and childhood on GoodReads. I don't even put all the ones I read now...


message 39: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9266 comments So assigned, Scout :-) For what it is worth, I also found Dickens names annoying rather than amusing.


message 40: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 5206 comments In these times, agreeing to disagree is golden :-)


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