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Rotten Rejections - Part 4

· Fine Book Collecting,Halifax,Rotten Rejections,Oscar Wilde,Walt Whitman

In late March 2022, I found a great little book that is in part hysterical, in part sad, and in part “Boy did that publisher make a mistake!”

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Rotten Rejections: A literary Companion, edited by André Bernard, Pushcart Press, Wainscott, NY, 1990.

Per the blurb – “The editor has selected the nastiest rejection letters he could discover, many contributed by the rejected authors and a few by the rejecting editors.” Then they list some of the well-known authors. I won’t share that list with you now but introduce them as the series progresses. But I will share the listing of the publishers who had been so rotten!

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Not a shabby list at all.

We are going to enjoy this book together. I am going to start at the beginning of the book and pick the “really good ones” or do I mean “the really bad ones”. When I get enough for the musing, I will stop and put the book aside until I do the next one in the series. And the book has some great drawings as well and I’ll share these as we go along.

This is the fourth in the series.

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand, 1943

It is too intellectual for a novel.

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Case is Closed, Mary Roberts Rinehart, 1957

I have read it, not once but twice, in an effort to find what you see in it, but I must be myopic.

An Unsocial Socialist, George Bernard Shaw, 1885

…a whimsical and extravagant story, served up with a pungent literary sauce. The result is a dish, which I fancy only the few would relish.

The New Men, C. P. Snow, 1954

It’s polite, literate, plodding, sententious narrative of considerable competence but not a trace of talent or individuality;…Real dull stuff for us Americans. The values in it are so bloody sanctimonious English that I found it hard to take.

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Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne, 1759

To sport too much with your wit, or the game that wit has pointed out, is surfeiting; like toying with a man’s mistress, it may be very delightful solacement to the inamorata, but little to the bystander.

Mankind in the Making, H. G. Wells, 1903

…only a minor writer of no large promise.

The Time Machine, H. G. Wells, 1895
It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.

The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells, 1898

An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would take…I think the verdict would be “Oh don’t read that horrid book.”

Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman, 1855

We deem it injudicious to commit ourselves.

Lady Windermere’s Fan, Oscar Wilde, 1892

My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, 1891

It contains unpleasant elements.

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Poems, William Butler Yeats, 1895

I am relieved to find the critics shrink from saying that Mr. Yeats will ever be a popular author. I should really at last despair of mankind, if he could be…absolutely empty and void. The work does not please the ear, nor kindle the imagination, nor hint a thought for one’s reflection…Do what I will, I can see no sense in the thing: it is to me sheer nonsense. I do not say it is obscure, or uncouth or barbaric or affected – tho’ it is all these evil things; I say it is to me absolute nullity…I would not read a page of it again for worlds.

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Memo from Cyril Connolly:
As repressed sadists are

supposed to become policemen or

butchers, so those with irrational

fear of life become publishers.

Tout fini