In Praise Of Mistakes. Robert Lynd. Essay Reintroduced by P.S.Remesh Chandran.
Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.
Robert Lynd is famous for his essays of wit, wisdom and humour. Here he is writing ‘in praise of mistakes’, how they are useful and how they are enjoyable to the world. It is his opinion that it is difficult to write something without slipping somewhere. Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoyment of a writer and the only unpardonable sin in an author is writing uninterestingly. This Irish genius who made us laugh shared the world with us during 1879-1949.
What I wonder is why I did not snatch away as much wealth as I could from the Indian Coffers.
People often write to newspapers about the frequent mistakes writers make in their articles and books. Geographical, historical or religious errors may occur in their works but those mistakes seldom make their works unreadable or unenjoyable. Instead, most often, they make the world merry for they give enough material for the world to laugh. One will wonder why writers do not make as many mistakes as they can so that the world can at least laugh heartily. In this aspect, the case framed by fault-finders against writers is a weak one. If it is presented in any court the writer, Lord Clive, may tell the jury that he wondered why he did not make as many mistakes as he could. Lord Clive was tried in the British Parliament for corruption during his India Service when he told senators, what he wondered was why he did not dare to snatch away more wealth from the vast treasure houses of the Indian Kings!
It is difficult to write about something without slipping somewhere.
Personally Lynd is a lover of accuracy but he finds it difficult to write about something without slipping somewhere. He consults an encyclopedia to avoid errors in writing. He has on many occasions risen and sweated in the very early mornings in fear of mistakes he may have made in articles which have already gone to press. A modern day writer who is born in the time of spell checker, auto correct and Internet would be totally unfamiliar with such dreadful experiences.
Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoyment of an author’s work.
Mistakes do not interfere with our enjoying an author’s work. It is not the word and its meaning that count; it is the sound of the word that is important and is appealing to human senses. It is the sound of the words that makes a poem pleasing to our senses and ears and imparts beauty to the poem. Poets, Lynd permits them, may use the names of any precious stones or anything else for that matter in their poems even without knowing their meaning, if those sounds are pleasing to ears. A jeweller’s assistant needn’t immediately go to him and correct him. According to Lynd the unpardonable sin in a writer is to write uninterestingly. If a work is interesting, it would be read and enjoyed by all. Mistakes do not matter there. Shakespeare made his multitude of mistakes in chronology and Walter Scott made the Sun rise on the wrong side of the world in the wrong time. Even then Shakespeare’s dramas and Walter Scott’s novels and poems are read by millions of people with interest.
A writer’s mistakes deserve praise, and fantastic errors are great stimulants.
Mistakes made in literature are useful to man in many ways. For example, they make the reader temporarily feel that he is an inch taller than the writer. Mistakes made by the writer are a source of delight to many readers. There is more joy over a single error discovered in a good writer than over a hundred pages of perfect writing. Error-hunters search for errors as meticulously and systematically as gold-hunters search for gold. His Eurekas are uttered not over immortal phrases but over some tiny mistake in geography, history or grammar. The famous English weekly ‘Punch’ once used to print the names of authors along with the mistakes they made. The writers protested. Lynd is of the opinion that writers needn’t protest over such dissections by print media and they needn’t consider it as an attempt to rob them of the credit for making the world happy and laughing. Since they are such useful to mankind, the writers’ mistakes deserve praise; even their fantastic mistakes, which are in many, are also thus pardonable. Lynd’s closing observation is that ‘we shall never have a novelist or writer of the magnitude of Shakespeare till one can make as many mistakes as Shakespeare made’.
You are invited to kindly visit the author’s website Time Upon My Window Sill.
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Appreciations, English Essayists, English Essays, English Language And Literature, English Writers, Essays, In Praise Of Mistakes, Irish Writers, P S Remesh Chandran, Philosophy, Re Introductions, Remembrances, Reviews, Robert Lynd, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, Studies, Usefulness Of Mistakes
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Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of ‘Swan, The Intelligent Picture Book’.
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“A writer’s mistakes deserve praise, and fantastic errors are great stimulants”
I appreciate that.
You’ve given a differently positive perspective to the art of reading a writers mind.
Writers’ mistakes have always given the world interesting material to laugh about. They do not disparage the writer but do prove to the world that they indeed are human beings, after us going through the unearthly materials they have written. Writers’ mistakes are indeed a solace to readers who are taken off with the momentum of the flow of ideas and emotions in the writing and cannot land. Seeing the mistake and reading the mistake lands them safely on the terra firma.