Sunday, July 22, 2007

Moral: Never listen to your mother

Oliver Kamm tells a story:

Many years ago a leading publisher in the UK commissioned my mother to read a book in German and make a recommendation about a possible English edition. My mother's report for the publisher said - I paraphrase, but not roughly - that the book was sub-literate and preposterous, had been written by an obvious ignoramus, and that no reputable publishing house would waste any time or risk its good name in associating with it. The publisher took note of this firm recommendation and decided not to commission an English translation.

So another English publisher brought out the book instead. The author's thesis was that extraterrestrial beings had visited Earth in ancient times and built, among other marvels, the statues on Easter Island, Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid at Giza. The author's name was Erich von Däniken, and his book - under the English title Chariots of the Gods? - became one of the great bestsellers and publishing sensations of the 1970s. He followed it with more than twenty other works in the same vein and to comparable public acclaim. But my mother's recommendation had been right; likewise the original publisher's decision to act on it.
Presumbably by pitching Oliver's moms out the window.

No comments: