A book is doubtless liked because it possesses certain qualities. Humor, pathos, plot, dramatic intensity, well drawn or strongly contrasted characters, literary style--some one or more of these a book must have in order to gain wide popularity; it must have more than one of them to attain an enduring place in literature. Lack of literary distinction has killed many a book that was rich in other good qualities, and a striking preponderance of some other quality has in other cases covered a multitude of sins against style.
Timeliness is a very potent factor in a book’s success. "Uncle Tom’s Cabin." appearing twenty years sooner than it did, before the national conscience had been stirred on the subject of slavery, would have fallen on stony ground; twenty years later, when slavery was a dead issue, it would have been simply an interesting study of a past epoch. Bellamy’s "Looking Backward" owed its success as well as its origin to the social unrest that stirs our modern life. Mr. Dooley, in his own inimitable way, discusses the living questions of the hour. Books are the fruit and flower of a nation’s thought; like other products of evolution, they thrive best in their native environment.
But the personal quality, after all, is what makes the book; it is the individuality of the author, speaking through the printed page, that differentiates the book from a thousand others. All other differences are transitory and unessential. And as this personal quality is more or less pronounced, to that extent does the book, or the picture, or the statue--whatever the medium of expression may be--stand out from the others that surround it. The high and clear intelligence that, like Shakespeare, can rise above time and circumstance and take as the materials of his art the basic elements of human life and character, is the only writer who can hope for enduring fame. The writer of the hour can only put himself in touch with current thought, and do the best that lies in him, and launch his frail bark on the troubled sea of popularity, uncertain whether it will sail or sink--prepared always for failure, but hoping always for the great success that will compensate for a lifetime of fruitless effort.
CHALRES W. CHESNUTT
Charles Chesnutt was born to two African-Americans in 1858. He later wrote novels, and short stories and also was a public intellectual. Being an African American during this time period, he focused a lot on segregation, and attitudes toward race. He is known as one of the most important African American writers of his time. In Chesnutt's, "Why is a Book Popular?" he explains the different aspects of what makes a good book, and what can be seen in this type of book. In the second paragraph Chesnutt states,
Chesnutt allows the reader to understand that a good book can't just happen, but instead there must be certain qualities that make up a good book. While studying realism, we know that character development is essential, and having a well developed character is what makes the book. However, Chesnutt explains that one quality is not going to make the novel exceptional. Instead, we must add many of the given qualities. Throughout realism and nautralism, we also see many distinct qualities shown, which is why many novels "attain an enduring place in literature."