Books fatal to their authors: Satire 01

Satire is a literary, musical, or dramatic discourse meant to expose perceived foolishness, often by being silly itself. Ironysaying one thing, but meaning anotheris a large part of satire. According to Webster, satire tends to be general rather than personal, and
It differs from sarcasm, in not expressing contempt or scorn.
The audio clip from The Onion is amusing because
  1. We know books don't literally take us on mystical journeys to exciting new places;
  2. We enjoy the absurdity of someone pretending that they could;
  3. We expect that reading will take us somewhere in our minds that we haven't been before.
In Books Fatal to their Authors, author P. H. Ditchfield takes us on a journey by exploring the hazards of writing. From his tongue-in-cheek preface:

To record the woes of authors and to discourse de libris fatalibus1 seems deliberately to court the displeasure of that fickle mistress who presides over the destinies of writers and their works. Fortune awaits the aspiring scribe with many wiles, and oft treats him sorely. ... Can Fortune pluck a more galling dart from her quiver, and dip the point in more envenomed bitterness? Yes, those whose hard lot is here recorded have suffered more terrible wounds than these. They have lost liberty, and even life, on account of their works. The cherished offspring of their brains have, like unnatural children, turned against their parents, causing them to be put to death.
Fools many of them—nay, it is surprising how many of this illustrious family have peopled the world, and they can boast of many authors' names which figure on their genealogical tree—men who might have lived happy, contented, and useful lives were it not for their insane cacoethes scribendi.2 And hereby they show their folly. If only they had been content to write plain and ordinary commonplaces which every one believed, and which caused every honest fellow who had a grain of sense in his head to exclaim, "How true that is!" all would have been well.
But they must needs write something original, something different from other men's thoughts; and immediately the censors and critics began to spy out heresy, or laxity of morals, and the fools were dealt with according to their folly. There used to be special houses of correction in those days, mad-houses built upon an approved system, for the special treatment of cases of this kind; mediaeval dungeons, an occasional application of the rack, and other gentle instruments of torture of an inventive age, were wonderfully efficacious in curing a man of his folly... 
One species of folly was especially effective in procuring the attention of the critics of the day, and that was satirical writing. ... with eager eyes and beating hearts the toilers after Truth worked on.
How many with crossed hands have sighed for her?
How many with brave hearts fought for her,
    At life's dear peril wrought for her,
    So loved her that they died for her,
    Tasting the raptured fleetness
    Of her Divine completeness?"
In honor of these scholars of an elder age, little understood by their fellows, who caused them to suffer for the sake of the Truth they loved, we doff our caps, whether they jingle or not, as you please...
But think not, O Book-lover, that I am about to record all the race of fools who have made themselves uncomfortable through their insane love of writing, nor count all the books which have become instruments of accusation against their authors. That library would be a large one which contained all such volumes. I may only write to thee of some of them now ...
And if there be any of Folly's crowd who read this book—of those, I mean, who work and toil by light of midnight lamp, weaving from their brains page upon page of lore and learning, wearing their lives out, all for the sake of an ungrateful public, which cares little for their labor and scarcely stops to thank the toiler for his pains—if there be any of you who read these pages, it will be as pleasant to you to feel safe and free from the stern critics' modes of former days, as it is to watch the storms and tempests of the sea from the secure retreat of your study chair...
It was my intention to dedicate this book to Mr. John Walter, but alas! his death has deprived it of that distinction... 
May'st thou proceed and prosper! Vale.3

1 de libris fatalibus: on/from books of fate
2 cacoethes scribendi: an incurable itch for scribbling
3 vale: farewell; go with strength

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