instincts but always to implement thenpolicies of higher-ups—until their naivenbut precious idealism has been finallynextinguished and it is too late for themnto dream about doing anything that maynhave consequences for good in thenworld.nWell, it happens in publishing, too,nevidently. The love of literature thatndrew these young men and women to benEnglish majors has to be killed beforenthey can be trusted to run even modestnamounts of capital. Hard lessons mustnbe learned about quality counting fornnothing. They must be made to realizenthat this is a business, a series of feats ofnmerchandising, a kind of fraud practicednupon a public that deserves nothing betternbecause it demands nothing better.nWhich leads us, at last, to Scarlett,nthe other big book of the fall 1991 season.nOr big nonbook, one might betternsay, an expensive rehash of the lowermiddlebrownnonsense of MargaretnMitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Thatnwas—let us not kid ourselves—a morenor less stupid exercise, a feminist tractnavant la lettre with a predictably romanticnsetting in the South of the CivilnWar and the Reconstruction period.nThe film was rather better than thenbook, mostly because Clark Cable andnVivian Leigh and Trevor Howard imposedntheir personalities on it and gavenit a schlocky sheen—so that this sequel,nonce the Mitchell heirs could be broughtnround, was an attractive, or at least economicallynviable, proposition.nThe book is not readable, is evennduller and more mawkish thannMitchell’s, and seems to be rathernprudish. (The estate, in a high-mindednway, wanted to protect the “property”nfrom vulgarization and insisted thatnthere be no explicit sexuality in the sequel,nas if there had been no changes atnall in public taste and standards sincenthe 1930’s. These restrictions only guaranteedna different and more serious kindnof vulgarity.) But to talk about the textnof the novel is entirely to miss the point.nThe publishers knew quite well that literarynquality was irrelevant, and that thenwriting and editing were merely preliminarynchores annoyingly prerequisitento the real business of selling books andnsubsidiary rights. 1 am reliably informednthat the editor, a bright young womannsent down by Warner for the first look atnMs. Ripley’s manuscript, had a goodndinner and a night’s rest, and then, innthe morning, was left alone for somenhours with the manuscript and a pot ofncoffee. When she got up to stretch andntake a turn around the garden, she wasnasked what she thought, and her reaction,nafter the first couple of hundredntypescript pages, was: “It’s very Southern.”nIt turned out that she had never actuallynread Gone with the Wind. Shenhad not seen the film either. She hadnno clear idea, then, what she was lookingnat. But never mind. The book sold anrecord number of copies in its firstnmonth in the stores, and producernRobert Halmi in partnership with CBSnput up $8 million for the him rights. Annall-time record, even making allowancesnfor inflation. Not only was Scarlett thennumber one title on the best-seller list,nit even dragged Margaret Mitchell’s oldnbook back onto the hardcover list (atn$21.95) and onto the paperback list toon(at $5.99). It is therefore difficult to trynto maintain that these cynics in publishingnare wrong. All one can do isngnash one’s teeth and mutter how theynare all villains, churls, fools, knaves,nrogues, swine, dogs, vermin . . .nAnd if they knew writers and readersnwere doing this? They would delight,nexulting and enjoying every moment ofnwhat they would take as an acknowledgmentnof their triumph—because, asnI have suggested, they detest their ownnold and foolish notions about quality.nThey understand that publishing is anbusiness, that in the marketplace ofnideas, ideas are the last things that readersncan bear. On a best-seller list towardnthe close of the year, Scarlett was followednby a Stephen King horror story, anTom Clancy high-tech novel, a Ken Follettnsuspense story, a Dick Francis horsenstory, a couple of novels by Sidney Sheldonnand Barbara Taylor Bradford, andnthen an Anne McCaffrey science-fictionnwork in the “Dragonriders of Pern” series.nWhat claptrap! What a monumentalndisgrace! It is a triumph of kitschnover art, of the demos over the aristoi. Ifnwe do not see this as an indictment ofnthe folly of free, universal, compulsoryneducation, it is at the least a mordantndemonstration of entropy in the spherenof culture. The minions of these publishingnhouses learn to delight in’theirnability to manipulate such offensesnagainst good taste to produce, from timento time, impressive results on the realnbooks—which are those the accountantsnkeep. There has to be a perverse delightnthese editors take in what they’re doing.nnna kind of blithe nihilism or a literarynSchadenfreude.nReal publishing, what little there isnleft, is mostly by inadvertence—goodnbooks young editors sneak through onnsmall budgets—or is elsewhere, out innthe sticks where the little presses seemnnot to have been informed of the deathnof civilization and are reading manuscripts,nprinting the best books they cannfind, and are if anything surprised thatnso many works of such high qualitynare coming out to the silos and bayousnand log cabins where they are stashingntheir hordes of good writing. Twentynyears ago, there was a kind of coherencento the lit biz, and Knopf, RandomnHouse, Viking, and Farrar, Strausn& Ciroux were doing a reasonablenenough job so that one could ask whynthere was such a need for small presses.nToday, the question is reversed, andnone looks to Dalkey Archive, the Universitynof Chicago Press, Louisiana StatenUniversity Press, Story Line Press, CoffeehousenPress, and such operations, andnone wonders what it is that Knopf, RandomnHouse, Viking, and Farrar, Straus &nGiroux suppose themselves to be doing.nOr, given what they are doing, we mightnbetter ask, who needs them anyway?nDavid R. Slavitt is a poet and novelistnwho lives in Philadelphia.nWho Is Henry Gait?nby Justin RaimondonAyn Rand and PlagiarismnCan it be that a fraud has been perpetratednon the readers and admirersnof novelist-philosopher AynnRand—a literary and intellectual swindlenthat veers perilously close to plagiarism?nThat such a charge could be levelednat the author of The Fountainheadnand Atlas Shrugged is irony borderingnon farce. For the spirit that animatednthe feisty little Russian woman, whonpreached a philosophy of individualism,ncapitalism, and “rational egoism,” wouldnseem to rule out such behavior. After all,nin The Fountainhead, a major crime ofnone of the chief villains is to take creditnfor the hero’s work. The whole spirit ofnthe Randian creed was best expressed innthat novel, in an exchange between thenAUGUST 1992/47n