Malcolm Gladwell’s new article in The New Yorker, “Late Bloomers: Why do we equate genius with precocity?,” tackles the misconceptions of the late bloomer and how one differs from a prodigy. Using Cézanne and Picasso as examples of each, respectively, Gladwell explores the marked difference between them:
“On the road to great achievement, the late bloomer will resemble a failure: while the late bloomer is revising and despairing and changing course and slashing canvases to ribbons after months or years, what he or she produces will look like the kind of thing produced by the artist who will never bloom at all. Prodigies are easy. They advertise their genius from the get-go. Late bloomers are hard. They require forbearance and blind faith.”
In the article, Gladwell also studies the “overnight” literary successes of authors Ben Fountain and Jonathan Safran Foer. This article seems to tie-in with Gladwell’s new book, “Outliers: The Story of Success.” The Gladwell pastiche is well established: take a complex phenomenon and make it accessible by illustrating it with a series of bite-sized human-interest profiles. It’s a straightforward approach that works because of Gladwell’s fluid engaging style.