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!”
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
Memo from Cyril Connolly:
As repressed sadists are
supposed to become policemen or
butchers, so those with irrational
fear of life become publishers.