Half a decade back, I read the review of a novel which had many virtues—apart from the fact that it was the first novel to blend economics with romance. It could be read in one evening. It had far more important things to say on compassion and charity than any work in history, fiction or non-fiction. The hero did not project a moral superiority over his listeners who believed that “capitalists want to starve the poor and eat their children.” He does not rant for 52 pages straight.
The technical perfection of the conversations was matched only by the protagonists’ ability to relate to ordinary human beings and “everyday life”. The protagonist believed in capitalism. But, he also placed a high premium on kindness and benevolence. He held that his students who wanted to instantly abolish the welfare state are “Kosher than the Pope”! He was wise. He was not angry. He was “humble”.
If it is not clear yet—The novel had many virtues over the fiction works of the cynical bitch who said: “If you don’t know the difference between the United States and Russia, you deserve to find out!” But, there was of course, a minor flaw. It was a bad novel. As an artist—well, as an artist, he was a fairly good economist. No one read the book.
To be fair, some of us did. His peers said that it was a charming sight to see a think-tank professor struggling to write a work of fiction. A sympathetic reviewer sighed, saying, “But, then the author still has his day job.” A blogger who loved his humble approach towards liberty listed 100 best libertarian blogs on the web, and at the bottom of it all, there was his own blog. It was titled, The Humble Libertarian. But, I am a malicious man. There was a smile on my face when the novel flopped. I had seen the author on Facebook. I hope that he was “humbled” by the unrelenting justice of the free market.
But, someone estimates that in terms of book sales, the world has voted for our cynical bitch 25 million times more than all the other important capitalistic writers combined. No one could replicate that success, and probably no one would, anytime soon. Why? We all have wondered, haven’t we?
The answer is simple: “Her work sold because it was great art.”
Today is her 108th Birthday.