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Tolkien Centenary Conference Proceedings

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  • Joan Marie Verba
    ... From: David Bratman ... No such policy was ever established. David B., I believe, misinterpreted a statement that I made to him in
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 3, 2005
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      --- Original Message ---
      From: David Bratman <dbratman@...>

      > Unless she has entirely forgotten her tenure as Mythopoeic Press Secretary,
      > she will remember establishing a policy to allow books to exhaust their
      > print run and then go out of print.

      No such policy was ever established. David B., I believe, misinterpreted a
      statement that I made to him in private about reprinting the Masques. I am
      sorry that this misunderstanding took place; I have done my best to clarify my
      statement in the past, but apparently this misapprehension lingers.

      My record shows that no such policy existed, as Sayers on Holmes was reprinted
      twice under my tenure and The Pedant and the Shuffly was reprinted once. I
      stated for the record on more than one occasion that it was my desire to
      reprint the Proceedings if possible. I believe, if asked, my editorial board,
      as well as the current Mythopoeic Press Secretary, would have a different
      recollection of what my policy was.

      Thank you for allowing me to clarify this misunderstanding once again, and I
      would ask that any further questions be directed to me offlist.

      Joan Marie Verba
    • David Bratman
      Joan has got to be kidding. She defended this policy of no reprints with great passion, but never gave a reason for it, despite my earnest requests for her to
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 3, 2005
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        Joan has got to be kidding. She defended this policy of no reprints with
        great passion, but never gave a reason for it, despite my earnest requests
        for her to do so. It would be particularly ironic if it only applied to
        the Masques - which she NEVER said to me - as I had, as I mentioned in my
        earlier post, asked for provision to be made for reprints of the Masques to
        be kept open as a possibility, ONLY if we wanted to, and at NO cost to us
        until and unless we actually requested the reprint. It would also be
        greatly insulting if it only applied to the Masques, for she has now said
        that other books have been reprinted. Why, should the Masques go out of
        print, should it only (of books it was legally possible to reprint) not be
        reprinted?

        David Bratman
      • Joan Marie Verba
        Let me touch on this subject once again briefly, as I m sure this topic may be only be of interest to me and Mr. B. The policy I stated and defended was as
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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          Let me touch on this subject once again briefly, as I'm sure this topic may be
          only be of interest to me and Mr. B.

          The policy I stated and defended was as follows:
          If a title is selling well, the Press would reprint it.
          If a title was not selling well, the Press would probably not reprint it.

          For the Masques, I stated the following:
          If the title sold out the initial print run of 300 copies in the first 6
          months, I would reprint it. If it sold out within the first year, I would
          strongly consider reprinting it. If it did not sell out within 2 years of the
          first printing, I would be reluctant to reprint it.

          Mr. Bratman seems to have mistaken my statement that a title that did not sell
          well within a reasonable period of time would probably go out of print, as a
          statement of no reprints, ever. He has previously taken my statement that
          whether or not to reprint a title after a period of time has elapsed is
          essentially a judgement call, as "no reason."

          (By the way, my policy did not apply to the Masques only. Had I remained
          Mythopoeic Press Secretary, Chad Walsh Reviews C. S. Lewis would very probably
          not have been reprinted, either.)

          I can understand Mr. Bratman's disappointment in my reluctance to reprint the
          Masques. I understand that contributors want their works to remain in print
          indefinitely. Mr. Bratman worked hard on the Masques and the results were
          outstanding, in my opinion.

          My 2000 Mythopoeic Press Budget, as with most (if not all) of my budgets, had a
          line item for funds set aside for reprinting titles. That is a matter of
          record. As the Masques was the only title eligible for reprint at the time, I
          believe that backs up my statement that I would have been willing to reprint
          had the sales been better.

          Allowing works to go out of print if sales do not meet certain expectations is
          not uncommon in the publishing industry. While I understand the feeling that
          the Mythopoeic Press is special and should be dedicated to the mission that
          works be in print indefinitely (the current Press Secretary may be of this
          opinion, but I would not wish to quote him without his direct input), this is
          not always financially realistic.

          One last item: if Mr. Bratman wished the Press to be run his way, he was always
          free to run against me as Press Secretary in the Steward elections, and I would
          have been happy to hand the Press over to him if he had won such an election.

          I am, again, sorry that this misunderstanding ever took place, and hope that
          this clarifies the record.

          Joan Marie Verba
        • Wayne G. Hammond
          Humphrey Carpenter died today (4 January) at age 58. He had spent several years with Parkinson s Disease. An obituary is on the _Daily Telegraph_ website, at
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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            Humphrey Carpenter died today (4 January) at age 58. He had spent several
            years with Parkinson's Disease. An obituary is on the _Daily Telegraph_
            website, at www.telegraph.co.uk: it mentions Carpenter's biography of
            Tolkien and his book on the Inklings among many other accomplishments.

            Wayne Hammond
          • Wayne G. Hammond
            ... Christina has found in our files a letter that _Proceedings_ co-editor and Conference co-chair Pat Reynolds wrote on 14 August 1992 to those intending to
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 4, 2005
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              Joan wrote:

              >The Tolkien Society told us that some of the authors signed contracts
              >specifying that the Proceedings would be printed once only. However, no one
              >ever produced a contract for me to examine, and some of the authors reported
              >that they could not recall signing any contract.

              Christina has found in our files a letter that _Proceedings_ co-editor and
              Conference co-chair Pat Reynolds wrote on 14 August 1992 to those intending
              to present papers at the Centenary Conference. This stated that the
              Conference Committee had long planned to publish all of the papers in more
              than one volume of _Proceedings_ (as was then thought, rather than one
              thicker volume) "as part of the series of both _Mallorn_ and _Mythlore_".
              At that time there was also the possibility that some of the papers "on a
              specific theme" might appear in a volume "published by a major British
              publishing house" (this fell through). But it was quite properly left to
              the individual presenter's wishes where his or her paper might appear, and
              the recipient of the letter thus was asked to choose from a list of
              options, with order of preference indicated if more than one option was chosen:

              I would like my paper to be considered for the themed volume.

              I would like my paper to be included in the _Proceedings_.

              I would like my paper to be forwarded to the editor of _Mallorn_ for
              consideration.

              I would like my paper to be forwarded to the editor of _Mythlore_ for
              consideration.

              I prefer to submit my paper elsewhere/not to submit my paper for
              publication at all.

              And after these was a blank to fill in "titles of foreign-language
              publications where I may submit my paper".

              This was all the "contract" that was sent out, except for a two-page "notes
              for contributors" which included the statement: "The copyright of each
              paper will remain with its author. The author's right to be associated with
              his or her work will be upheld. These right[s] apply similar to artists and
              photographers." If I recall correctly, the list of options was, at least in
              small part, in response to my huffing and puffing that the editor of
              _Mythlore_ did not, by any means, have an automatic right to publish any of
              the papers just because the conference counted as a Mythcon (any more than
              he did for papers at ordinary Mythcons, as he had been claiming), not
              without written permission. It was also, I believe, set out this way
              because a handful of presenters had already said that they did not want
              their papers to appear in _Mythlore_ (that is, in an individual issue,
              never mind that the _Proceedings_ counts as _Mythlore_ 80), for personal
              reasons having to do with its editor.

              There was certainly nothing in these materials, or in anything else the
              presenters received, which stated that the _Proceedings_ could be printed
              only once. It may be, however, that some of the individual authors
              specified this privately as a condition of publication, or it was specified
              as a condition of permission to republish one or more of the essays that
              had already appeared in print prior to the conference, or it was a
              condition applied by the Tolkien Estate as part of their omnibus permission
              which covered quotations from Tolkien's works.

              Wayne Hammond
            • David Bratman
              Humphrey Carpenter first came to my notice in 1977, when his biography of Tolkien was published. This book distracted my attention effectively from a few
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 5, 2005
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                Humphrey Carpenter first came to my notice in 1977, when his biography of
                Tolkien was published. This book distracted my attention effectively from a
                few workaday nuisances, such as final exams. It's amazing how well it's
                held up over the years. Certainly none of its successors (except John
                Garth's _Tolkien and the Great War_, which isn't a full biography) have
                measured up to his achievement. Carpenter made a fair number of factual
                errors, as it later turned out: some of them because Tolkien's papers had
                not been adequately sorted at the time he did his research, so info on what
                Tolkien wrote and when he wrote it was lacking. But his errors are mostly
                in details: what's important is how well Carpenter captured the spirit and
                intellect of the man. His picture of what drove and interested Tolkien was
                impeccable, so it's unfortunate that Carpenter lost interest in later
                years, and once wrote a radio dramatization script that depicted Tolkien as
                nothing more than an absent-minded coot.

                Soon afterwards came his book on the Inklings, also still the standard
                resource on the subject, though perhaps a less successful work. Carpenter
                found Lewis's and Williams's idiosyncracies more puzzling than Tolkien's,
                and didn't really have the measure of the men. But he delved deeply into
                sources and wore his learning confidently.

                After that he was established as a famous literary biographer, and went on
                to many other subjects. The first of these was W.H. Auden, possibly
                Carpenter's best book, a rich amusing and lucid portrait of the man and his
                work. But later books tended to lose something. I was quite disappointed
                with his book on Benjamin Britten, which drew him as a man with a really
                interesting erotic life who also might have composed a little bit of music
                from time to time. But Carpenter could still turn a phrase and make telling
                points: I'm especially fond of a footnote in _Geniuses Together_, his book
                on the American writers in 1920s Paris, saying something to the effect of
                noting that Hemingway is believed to have written most of his fiction while
                mildly drunk; and that it works best if the reader is in a similar
                condition. (I haven't tried this myself.)

                Carpenter also wrote a number of other books, including children's fiction,
                that I mostly have not read, but _Secret Gardens_, his critical survey of
                the golden age of English children's literature, is another brilliant and
                insightful book.

                David Bratman
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