Author Archives: Kelvin Smith

Seelenkalender 1

Here is the first week of the Seelenkalender ready for translation.

Screenshot 2020-04-06 at 10.13.22

Seelenkalender download

A download of the Warburg Institute copy of the Seelenkalender is available by clicking here.


Rudolf Steiner wrote the Seelenkalender for the year 1912/13. It provides a text for each week of the year, starting in early April, and these weekly texts aim to provide a way of exploring the seasonal moods that are part of the way we make connections in the natural and spiritual world.

These pages will grow during the coming year as an exercise in translation and interpretation. The various post connected with this endeavour will be tagged Seelenkalender and all relevant posts can be found by clicking here.

Coronavirus haiku

You will stay alive

Through the spring and the summer

Winter will wake you

Let’s have a climate-friendly, pandemic-proof book fair in Europe in 2021

As London Book Fair joins Paris and Leipzig in cancelling its annual March shindig, it’s clear that the days of the greenhouse gas book fair are over, so let’s see this as the opportunity to create a new kind of publishing gathering.

What about taking all the energy and enthusiasm and using it to create a new kind of European publishing meeting in the digital space?  At last, here is a chance to show how publishing can use the opportunities presented by e-creation and e-commerce not just to add to the older models of publishing, but to develop a new meeting ground for publishers from throughout Europe and the world.

Are publishers and other book professionals ready to rise to this challenge? I hope so, for the sake of publishing and for the future of the world in this time of climate emergency.


Beyond 31st January 2020

The UK looks set to leave the European Union at the end of this week and it is unlikely to join again in my lifetime. It’s a time for a short reflection and a few observations.

First, when it comes to nationality, Brexit has not made me feel more British, or more English or, in fact, more European. It has not actually changed my view of myself much at all. I stand by the remarks I made at the time of the referendum.

Secondly, Brexit has not changed my views of the people who engage in politics, or those who are responsible for the management of major corporations or large institutions. As before, I consider them to be almost exclusively self-regarding, self-seeking, self-important chancers who make decisions to benefit themselves and people like them. I will never understand how we let them get away with it.

Really it seems that Brexit is not really any sort of change at all. On 1st February 2020 Britain will remain a place where inequality, prejudice, ignorance and superciliousness rule in equal measure. If Brexit has not changed my view of myself or of the country, has it changed anything?

The answer, I think, is yes. The way in which British politics have been conducted in past four years, since the time the referendum campaigns began, has helped us to see that political, social and material progress are chimeras. We are not just in a fake news post-fact world; we have reached a different end of history; we are in a post-progress world. Liberalism, democracy – whatever you call it – does not triumph; it damages both human society and the natural world. The bad guys win, again. The rest lose, again. The very idea of progress, the scale of the destruction, is now killing us, all of us.

At the heart of both the Brexit blip and of the far more important climate and ecological disaster is a history of selfishness, and systematic social, racial and gender inequity. It seems unlikely that there will be any coming together, except in the titanic clash of ideologies and sensibilities, in a struggle that will be determined by a straight division of the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the year 2020 and the coming decade Brexit will mean that some will make money, while many will lose livelihoods, homes, health and life itself. In these same years the far greater losses created by climate change will be shared by us all, as droughts, floods, pandemics, wars, crop failures and poisonous air take their toll of human, animal, plant and microbial life around the world.

This decade is important and we need to treat it that way and get on with the job of preserving what we can, as soon as we can, in any way we can. Those who want to work with others in Europe will continue to do so, and will get strength from that. Brexit will not stop us doing what is necessary.

Once, not so very long ago…

These introductory sentences of Jay McInerney’s Bright, Precious Days stand alone.

Been there, done that.

“Once, not so very long ago, young men and women had come to the city because they loved books, because they wanted to write novels or short stories or even poems, or because they wanted to be associated with the production and distribution of those artefacts and with the people who created them. For those who haunted suburban libraries and provincial bookstores, Manhattan was the shining island of letters.”

Jay McInerney, Bright Precious Days, 2016

It’s better to offer authors more

Michael Mont, the fledgling publisher in To Let, the third volume of Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga, puts Soames right on the matter of author payments.

‘People are quite on the wrong track in offering less than they can afford to give; they ought to offer more, and work backwards.’

Soames raised his eyebrows.

‘Suppose the more is accepted?’

‘That doesn’t matter a little bit,’ said Mont; ‘it’s much more paying to abate a price than to increase it. For instance, say we offer an author good terms – he naturally takes them. Then we go into it, find we can’t publish at a decent profit and tell him so. He’s got confidence in us because we’ve been so generous to him, and he comes down like a lamb, and bears us no malice. But if we offer him poor terms at the start, he doesn’t take them, so we have to advance them to get him, and he thinks us damned screws into the bargain.’

I wonder if any current publisher considers this argument when negotiating terms with an author or their agent.

John Galsworthy, To Let, 1921

Letter to The Author about Climate Change

Here is my letter to The Author (September 2019) urging the Society of Authors and all its members to be at the forefront of telling the truth about the climate emergency, using their unique skills to make positive changes in their own behaviour, and to advocate strong actions at a personal, professional and political level to address climate change.