Can book jackets be demythologized? Even cereal boxes now profess to “give it to you straight”—what about the puffed blurbs on the back flap of the books you read at breakfast?
A shot has been fired which will be heard around the world. The first author has taken his stand on the Common against the red-jacketed line of publishers. Alban G. Widgery is the minute-man; his tocsin is a single sheet, printed in black ink on white paper, and mailed recently to librarians and book dealers. The announcement lacks all trace of layout men and copywriters. It looks like this:
The T.Y.C. Co.
in its 1961 Fall Announcement of
A PHILOSOPHER’S PILGRIMAGE
by Alban G. Widgery
made misrepresentations which the author asked to be corrected publicly in a satisfactory manner. As the publisher has not done that, the author here does it at his own expense.…
“It was asserted that the author had ‘achieved fame’ on three continents. Nothing in the book justifies such a statement. If it is supposed that he consented to it, he might rightly be exposed to ridicule. He knows, as others do, that he has achieved fame nowhere.
“It is said that the author ‘rubbed shoulders’ with Dr. Arnold Toynbee. He has never even met him.”
There is more, including a dust jacket description of which the author did approve, where we learn that he is a senior citizen of seventy-four, has studied in England, Germany, France, Scotland, India, and admires the people of Scotland.
Perhaps British understatement explains Mr. Widgery’s factual modesty; perhaps he has Scottish scruples. In any case, his courage should achieve fame for him on three continents.
Eutychus Associates wish to analyze representative “puffs” on dust jackets and in book announcements. ...1
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