Then I become worried.
There’s an anecdote of literary history that always troubles me: when Herman Melville died in 1891, his obituary read “Henry Melville”. Now, while I’ve heard that that story may not be 100% accurate, it does reveal the sad fact that Melville was not recognized as a genius during his life time. Moby Dick, one of the greatest novels of the 19th century, and of those greats by far the most experimental, was not widely championed until at least fifty years after its publication. Melville’s generation of readers failed in their responsibility. Thank goodness the next generation found that buried treasure for themselves.
Who are the unsung geniuses of my time, and will I recognize them when I find them?
I’ll quickly end with what Alexander Pope wrote to begin his “Essay on Criticism”:
'Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill
Appear in writing or in judging ill;
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' offence
To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.
Some few in that, but numbers err in this,
Ten censure wrong for one who writes amiss;
Short Story Judge