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A Bookseller’s Grievance.

The peatmen are not the only people who have to complain of a public that does not know its own mind. Their annual collection of puzzles in handwriting and in topsyturvy addressee still, perhaps, gives them the lead in this kind of grievance, but the book trade run them hard in the race. A trade correspondent of ‘ The Bookseller ’ writes feelingly to that journal on the hopelessly foolish way in which orders for books are sometimes transmitted to the wholesale houses. Often the customer has a very imperfect idea of the book he wants, while the tradesman who writes down the order is unable to enlighten him. The two together, therefore, in their ignorance and carelessness, conspire to put most distracting conundrums to the wholesale dealer. The correspondent illustrates his meaning by a list of “titles given 1 ’ by the retail booksellers, and of “ books required.” At first sight, or indeed at anything short of second, no one might guess the meaning of an order for ‘Molar’s Burglarous Gentleman.’ Much practice in this kind of puzzle, however, with a headache thrown in, may lead the expert to the conjecture that Molike’s ‘Le BourgeoisGentilhomme 1 lathe brochure sought. When once he has achieved this he will have little difficu ty in reading the nine great author’s ‘Les Fouiberies de tapin’ for Four Boys Escaping,’’ which, we are given to understand, is sometimes the form in which the order reaches Paternoster row, English titles fare just as badly. ‘ Poor ‘ Miss Elliott, by Eari_ Derby, 1 may, we feel sure, besought in vain in Messrs Low’s exhaustive catalogues of current literature. And how fa an unfortunate bookseller to guea that ‘ Homer’s Iliad, by the late Lord Derby 1 is the book which the customer wishes to buy ? What kind of customer, except a queer customer, can he be who is capable of rendering the title in this way, and to what extent is his desire to possess the work to be esteemed a compliment by the writer ? Verily, obscurity hath its compensations whore fame is to be known like this. ‘ Miss Understood, By a Lady, 1 is another good riddle, though some practice in this kind of cryptic writing may show that * Misunderstood, by F. Montgomery, 1 is the work in demand, ‘ Darwin’s Descent of Man, 1 as transformed into ‘ Darwin’s Indecent Man,’ may be only a ribald jest, but there is reason to believe that it is quite honestly meant. Perhaps it is a survival of the critical opinion of the rural deaneries on this subversive work. In many a village book club, no doubt, ‘Darwin's Indecent Man’ will be ■thankfully received as a happy effort of unconscious cerebration on the part of the mocking muse. ‘ Lamb’s Essays, by Eliza,’ may be based on some confused idea of literary effort on the part of the lady who stood “ on the wood-crowned height,” The author of this blunder is, perhaps, that first cousin of Mrs Malaprop ,who adopted a recommendation to try Lamb’s Tales by sending an order to the butcher, * Oenaire, by ,G. {Bronte,’ is, of course, neither more teas .than ‘ Jane Eyre.’ The person who ordered 'four Wings and an Arm, by Moleeworth/meant noavil.butsimply wished ■torwd 'iFogrWlndsfarm.-’ ‘Shakespeare’s

Judith,’ edited by Black, is not a newlydiscovered play ; it is only ‘ Judith Shakespear,’ by a popular living writer. It is impossible to localise some of these blunders, but one appears to be of metropolitan origin. ‘Scott’s St. Henry’s ed.’ for * Waverley Novels, Centenary ed.,’ must surely have been perpetrated within the sound of Bow Bells. It seems a pity, however, that the superfluous “ H ” of one of the proper names should have been allowed to stand. People who are capable of writing the titles in this way must be capable of reading the books in the same appreciative spirit. ‘ Four Wings and an Arm ’ is, no doubt, lent from house to house in the provinces as a story of Whitechapel life, while many who have ploughed through ‘ Moolar’s Four Boys Escaping ’ will treasure the memory of it to their dying day as_ a stirring drama of blood and crime.— ‘ Daily News.’

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890514.2.25

Bibliographic details

A Bookseller’s Grievance., Issue 7906, 14 May 1889

Word Count
692

A Bookseller’s Grievance. Issue 7906, 14 May 1889

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