In recent posts in the Rust, popularity in the arts has been discussed in the context of Daphne du Maurier ‘s writing and Edward Seago.
Popularity itself does not mean a writer or artist is second rate. Critics who often fail to make living from their art or writing are sometimes scathing of a popular figure who can. An interesting integer here is duration of popularity. du Maurier died over 35 years ago and her first book The Loving Spirit is nearly 100 years old but she is still a popular author over this period when literary tastes have changed. Seago died in 1972 but his work is much coveted.
Terence Rattigan and Noel Coward were slated by Ken Tynan and a new generation of angry young men – Wesker, Pinter, Osborne – became the playwrights of the moment. It proved to be a fashion as, when you look down the listings now, you are more likely to see Rattigan or Coward than any of the plays by the ‘angry young men’ whose popularity proved fleeting and could not attract younger audiences.
In my opinion to ignore popularity is tantamount to criticising the “No” vote in the referendum. Independence was rejected 55 to 45%, so when the public make up their mind it is arrogant to assume that any individual knows better.