Freitag, 12. Februar 2010

A pleasant hoax

The following novel was originally produced in the German lan-
guage, as a soi disant translation from Sir Walter Scott, to meet
the demands of the last Easter fair at Leipsic.

In Germany, from the extreme difficulties and slowness of com-
munication between remote parts of the country, it would be
altogether impossible to effect the publication of books […]
without some such general rendezvous and place of depôt and
exchange as the Leipsic fair presents to the dispersed members
of the publishing body. By means of this fair […] a connexion is
established between the remotest points of the German conti-
nent—which […] comprehends many parts of Europe that politi-
cally are wholly distinct from Germany. The publishers of Vien-
na, Trieste, and Munich, here meet with those of Hamburgh and
Dresden, of Berlin and Königsburg: Copenhagen and Stockholm
send their representatives: and the booksellers of Warsaw and
even of Moscow are brought into direct contact with the agents
of the foreign booksellers in London.

Hence, as may be supposed, it is an object of much importance
that all books, which found any part of their interest upon their
novelty, should be brought out at this time: and something or
other is generally looked for from the pen of every popular writer
as a means of giving zest and seasoning to the heavy Mess-Catalog.
If it happens therefore upon any account that an author fails to
meet these expectations of the Leipsic fair,—obliging persons are
often at hand who step forward as his proxy by forging something
in his name. This pleasant hoax it was at length judged convenient
to practise upon the author of Waverley; the Easter fair offering a
favourable opportunity for such an attempt, from the circumstance
of there being just then no acknowledged novel in the market from
the pen of that writer which was sufficiently recent to gratify the
wishes of the fair or to throw suspicion upon the pretensions of the
hoaxer. These pretensions, it is asserted, for some time passed
unquestioned; and the good people of Germany, as we are assured,
were universally duped. A work, produced to the German public
and circulated with success under such assumptions, must naturally
excite some curiosity in this country; to gratify which it has been
judged proper to translate it.

It may be as well to add that the name “Walladmor” is accented
upon the first syllable, and not upon the penultimate, by the German
author; who may reasonably be allowed to dictate the pronunciation
of names invented by himself.