The Good, the True, the Beautiful:
Those are the things that pay!

—Lewis Carroll

Most authors can contemplate the prospect of making a lot of money with breathtaking equanimity. George Santayana, for instance, had no difficulty in grasping the news that The Last Puritan had been picked as a Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. “Of course it is gratifying to have this sudden boost,” he wrote to a friend in 1935, “but someone must have it, apparently, every month, and really it’s not extravagant to think that The Last Puritan, which is a major work and original in some respects, should have been chosen to be one of the twelve in one year.”

But what was to Santayana cause for detached, perhaps even smug, self-congratulation provoked in John P. Marquand an oddly splenetic outburst. When his 1943 novel So...


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