To some people, publishing brands still matter. And to those biblio-gazers, Penguin's decision to publish Morrissey's autobiography as a Penguin Classic might be sullying the imprint's revered name. The Guardian has a snarky explainer on Morrissey's upcoming biography (out on October 17) today and spends most of the piece chiding Penguin for its arrangement with the legendary singer:
What next? JK Rowling? Worse, I'm afraid.
Not Martin Amis. No, Morrissey.
Who? A popular singer who has written his autobiography.
The paper adds:
Where will he fit in Penguin's pantheon? Just after Montaigne.
Is Morrissey happy with that? For the moment.
How does Montaigne feel? "He who establishes his argument by noise and command shows that his reason is weak."
Get it? Getting Morrissey's autobiography is a big deal and may be a major financial coup, but Penguin had to sell a little piece of its soul to get it.
Others seems to agree. "Penguin has unwittingly set fire to its own reputation. It has shown itself willing to cave in spectacularly to cultural relativism, to embrace the modern fashion for eschewing judgment in favour of squawking: 'Everything is equally valid.'" writes Brendan O'Neil for The Telegraph.
The counter to these vocal cries of how Morrissey's book is going to lower our cultural standards is that Penguin is simply playing the game. Making money off Morrissey will allow the imprint to survive and print future editions of Montaigne.
What we don't know yet is if Morrissey's book is actually any good or worthy of the "classic" label (whatever that means to you). But that hasn't stopped anyone from passing judgment.