Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

re: Hamlet's mill reviews

Expand Messages
  • Chris
    Terry, you mentioned that you hadn t read the review I was referring to. I include it here since I know you have an interest in the matter. I am no longer
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 18, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Terry, you mentioned that you hadn't read the review I was referring to. I
      include it here since I know you have an interest in the matter. I am no
      longer arguing any point related to this; I also just wanted the SL archives
      to contain a copy of it.

      First is the NYTimes review by Mr. Leach, followed by Santillana's rebuttal,
      at the bottom of which comes NYTimes justification for asking Leach to
      review Santillana.

      * * *

      The New York Review of Books Feb. 12, 1970, p. 36.



      Bedtime Story



      Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend. Gambit, 484
      pp., $10.00



      Edmund Leach



      As will presently be apparent, my reaction to this book is hostile -- so,
      before my prejudices get out of hand, let me try to explain what it is all
      about. Both authors are internationally celebrated professors of the History
      of Science, the one from M.I.T., the other from Frankfurt. The latter has
      the additional qualification of having been a pupil of Leo Frobenius the
      romantically inclined German ethnologist who, in 1897, originated the
      concept of Kulturkrels, an intellectual tool by means of which the
      geographical distribution of cultural elements might be used to reconstruct
      an historical sequence of hypothetical past civilizations



      In later years, when the Kulturkreislehre had been misappropriated by the
      ethnologists of the Vienna school, the distinctive feature of Frobenius's
      theorizing was the concept of Ergriffenheit (emotional involvement), which
      he held to be "the crucial event in the emergence of a culture. Once man is
      gripped by the world about him, the particular nature of the things in his
      world and the existential order within which he lives are revealed to him."
      Frobenius has never been highly regarded by the professional anthropologists
      of the Anglo-Saxon world though, in retrospect, it can be seen that his work
      had a powerful influence on Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture (1935) and
      thence derivatively on the "Culture and Personality" phase of American
      anthropology.



      All this is relevant because the murky confusion generated by reading any
      random twenty pages of Hamlet's Mill is strongly reminiscent of Frobenius.
      Indeed, the whole operation is not much more than a gloss on two early works
      of that extraordinary author, Die Mathematik der Oceaner (1900) and Das
      Zeitalter des Sonnengottes (1904).



      Th. theme of Hamlet's Mill is that once upon a time (when or where is not
      very clear, but 4000 B.C. somewhere in the Middle East seems to be what the
      authors have in mind) there was an archaic civilization whose members had a
      sophisticated theory of the relations between time and astronomy. This
      theory rested on an understanding of the annual cycle of the constellations
      of the Zodiac and a recognition of the precession of the equinoxes,
      knowledge of which had been incorporated into a coherent cosmological schema
      expressed in the language of myth. Later mythological systems whether
      recorded in Greece in the fourth century B.C., in Scandinavia in the twelfth
      century A.D., or North Africa, or Guiana, or Polynesia at the present day,
      are all truncated remnants of this ancient astrological-astronomical
      mythology, and close attention to these "relics, fragments and allusions
      that have survived the steep attrition of the ages" will allow part of the
      ancient knowledge to be reconstructed.



      The particular fragment with which our authors are specially concerned is
      the poetic image by which the rotation of the sky around the pole star was
      conceived as a gigantic upper millstone driven. by a cosmic whirlpool
      (maelstrom). The product of the mill was not only the salt and sand of the
      sea and soil of the earth but the astrological destiny of each individual
      human being.



      Whether any such cosmic legend ever existed anywhere at all, all in one
      piece, seems. on the evidence of this book, to be extremely doubtful but
      those who want to believe in such improbabilities as flying saucers are
      never likely to be put off by mere lack of evidence. The protests of
      Doubting Thomas can always be smothered by an avalanche of erudite footnotes
      -- of which anon.



      The whole enterprise is rather like a demonstration that Francis Bacon wrote
      the plays of William Shakespeare. Provided you are certain of your answers
      before you start, the clues and acrostics can be found almost anywhere. If
      you look hard enough, cosmic mills will emerge from the circle of Stonehenge
      or the painted calendars of Cortes's Mexico -- who knows? All things are
      possible.



      Had the authors set themselves a more modest objective, their problem need
      not have proved wholly intractable. Every human society necessarily operates
      within some kind of framework of cosmological ideas which enable the people
      concerned to count on the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow
      morning and that the moon will wax and wane over the next thirty days. But
      we know that such cosmological systems can vary enormously, and our authors'
      insistence that between about 4000 B.C. and 100 A.D. a single archaic system
      prevailed throughout most of the civilized and protoúcivilized world is pure
      fantasy. Their attempt to delineate the details of this system by
      abstraction from a worldú wide scatter of random oddments of mythology is no
      more than an intellectual game.



      If they had concentrated their analysis onto a geographically more limited
      range of materials, they could at least have produced a readable book which
      might then perhaps have carried some conviction.



      As it is, only now and again, when the far-flung argument happens to impinge
      on something that we know already, does the text begin to make any sense at
      all. There is a nice point, for example, with regard to time and space. In
      Descartes's system, which is roughly our own, space provides the fixed
      coordinates and time is that which moves, but "In Plato's philosophy,
      Archaic Time stayed intact ... [it] is the universe, like it circular and
      definite. It is the essence of definition .... In that world it was Space
      which, if taken by itself, brought in indefiniteness and incoherence" (p.
      340]. Unfortunately, gems of this sort are hard to find. Something like 60
      percent of the text is made up of complex arguments about Indo-European
      etymologies which would have seemed old-fashioned as early as 1870.



      Hamlet's name in the title is just a come-on, his connection with the story
      is tenuous. Shakespeare's hero derived from Saxo Grammaticus's Amlethus and
      in an Icelandic work written about 1230 A.D. there is a reference to a place
      where "the sea is called AmIodhi's Mill." This is, I think, the only extant
      reference to the "shadowy Icelandic Amlodhi," but we are assured that
      scholarship has shown that he is "identical" with Amlethus and hence with
      Hamlet. What this means, I don't know. This kind of playing with names is
      characteristic of the whole exercise and leads back to an even more
      ancestral figure than Frobenius, namely the nineteenth-century Sanskritist,
      Max Mueller. The latter was the originator of the doctrine that all
      mythology is "a disease of language" resulting from the personification of
      natural phenomena and the subsequent confusion of names.



      One of Mueller's examples was: "Luchegenes, the son of light-Apollo, was
      changed into a son of Lycia, Delios, the bright one, which gave rise to the
      myth of the birth of Apollo in Delos." Hamlet's Mill is packed with this
      sort of thing, but the authors have got a bit behind the times. To take one
      example of many: It was proposed by Kuhn in 1852 that the name Prometheus is
      a corruption of Sanskrit Pra-mantha, a fire stick. Although this etymology
      has long ago been completely rejected as linguistically quite impossible
      (see Pauly-Wissowa Real Encyclopaedie Vol. XXXIII (i) (1957) p. 690)
      Hamlet's Mill (pp. 139ff.) not only resurrects the equation but gives it
      enormous elaboration so that Prometheus's fall from celestial grace is made
      to provide evidence that our ancestors of 6000 years ago could recognize a
      shifting in the position of the Pole Star!



      This is all so silly that perhaps the proper treatment of the book would lie
      to rate it as bedtime reading for the children -- in its mixed-up way it
      does contain many picturesque fables -- but more serious condemnation is
      unavoidable. After all, the subject matter, the place of myth in human
      thought, has considerable importance and is currently the focus of much
      scholarly attention. The authors of Hamlet's Mill are persons of
      distinction, and their views carry weight: where then does their book fit in
      with the rapidly expanding literature in this field? The answer is: not at
      all. Despite their claims to scholarship the authors avoid all reference to
      the currently relevant literature! This Is quite a feat and calls for
      elaboration.



      The bibliography runs to thirty pages and includes at a rough estimate 750
      separate items; in addition almost every page is heavily laden with notes.
      in the Germanic style. These footnotes include dozens, perhaps hundreds, of
      references which do not. appear in the bibliography. Since the Leitmotif of
      the book is that myth incorporates an ancient pre-classical corpus of
      astronomical knowledge, one might have expected that, in all this welter of
      supporting documentation, the authors would have found space to give the
      reader some clear guide as to where he might look for other recent (or even
      not so recent) treatments of the same theme, but this is not the case.



      On the cosmological side, the names of Duhem, Martin, and Heath are all
      missing, and equally, in the field of myth analysis, the names of Cassirer,
      Levi-Strauss , Eliade, and even Robert Graves, whose celebrated The White
      Goddess (1948) was an essay in the same style. Cassirer, it is true, earns
      as an afterthought three pages of un-called-for abuse (pp. 326-328)
      apparently because the authors had come across his Philosophy of Symbolic
      Forms (1924) only as they ere going to press, but in all other respects they
      choose to ignore almost completely nearly everything that has been written
      about their subject matter over the past forty years. The single major
      exception is that they approve of Griaule's work relating to the
      cosmological ideas of the Dogon of West Africa. Academic arrogance of this
      sort is impenetrable; in the certitude of their faith our authors are bound
      to dismiss all criticism as tendentious and so, as critic, I have nothing to
      say except that I do not believe a word of it.



      But the skeptic need never feel browbeaten by the battery of footnotes and
      appendices. Half the time the authors get their references wrong anyway. For
      example, at p. 142 they blandly assert that "during the last hundred years
      it has been taken for: granted that no one could have detected the
      Precession (of the Equinoxes) prior to Hipparchus's alleged discovery of the
      phenomenon in 127 B.C.," and they then go on to argue that evidence of a
      much earlier understanding of the phenomenon is to be found in ancient
      mythology. But this is just false. The issue has been discussed repeatedly,
      notably by Th. H. Martin who wrote. a whole monograph on the subject, and
      Duhem (Le Systeme du Monde, Volume II, Chapter 3). Incidentally, the topic
      was even discussed in the fifth century A.D. One good reason thinking that
      Hipparchus's discovery was not a piece of ancient knowledge resurrected was
      that Proclus Diadochus (410-485 A.D.) refused to believe in the Precession
      of the Equinoxes at all on the ground that, if it had been true, the Ancient
      Egyptians and the Chaldeans would have been aware of it!



      But who cares about that?




      * * *



      NY Review of Books May 7, 1970, p. 45



      CREDENTIALS



      To the Editors:

      As a constant reader of The New York Review of Books, which usually makes
      excellent choices of its reviewers, may I protest the treatment Hamlet's
      Mill received in the publication from a reviewer who was in no way equipped
      to review it [NYR, February 12]. 1 am too old a hand in the writing and
      reviewing game to be offended by adverse criticism, but-and it is a very
      large "but"-I insist the criticism must come, if not from peers, at least
      from one who indicates the limits of the training he brings to his task.

      Mr. Leach, the English anthropologist chosen to review my book, is cited by
      you as the author of several books dealing with the tribal relations of
      primitive villages, especially of the Far East. Dr. von Dechend and 1,
      co-authors of Hamlet's Mill, are historians of science, to which
      anthropology is a recent and very "step" relation. Moreover, ten years of
      specific, studies in technical astronomy, ancient and archaeological history
      and myth lie behind the writing of Hamlet's Mill. Mr. Leach was assigned
      by your publication a whole page in which to evaluate the book for an
      American audience innocent of his lack of authority-a lack of authority
      which is not suggested in his own comment except for his kind allusion to
      the reputation of the authors. The review itself, couched in irrelevant and
      inapplicable terms, nonetheless implies an expert knowledge in the field of
      the book and is made none the more graceful by its offensively jocular tone.

      In the publishing of over twenty books in my career, I have never before
      written to protest an adverse review. This one was so totally unjustified
      that I must ask you to give this letter of protest equal space and
      prominence with Mr. Leach's review.

      Giorgio de Santillana

      Beverly, Mass.



      Note: The justification for asking Dr. Leach to review this particular
      book is that he is considered an authority on two relevant topics, (a) the
      analysis of myth and (b) primitive time reckoning. For the latter competence
      see his paper "Primitive Time 'Reckoning" in C. Singer, E.J. Holmyard, and
      A. R. Hall, A History of Technology, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954),
      pp. 110-127.
    • ter2223
      ... to. I ... am no ... archives ... rebuttal, ... Chris, thanks for posting this. I have not seen either text before and it was very interesting to read.
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 28, 2003
      • 0 Attachment
        --- In sacredlandscapelist@yahoogroups.com, Chris <groups@g...> wrote:
        > Terry, you mentioned that you hadn't read the review I was referring
        to. I
        > include it here since I know you have an interest in the matter. I
        am no
        > longer arguing any point related to this; I also just wanted the SL
        archives
        > to contain a copy of it.
        >
        > First is the NYTimes review by Mr. Leach, followed by Santillana's
        rebuttal,
        > at the bottom of which comes NYTimes justification for asking Leach to
        > review Santillana.
        >
        > * * *
        >

        Chris, thanks for posting this. I have not seen either text before
        and it was very interesting to read. Some of the reviewer's points
        were legitimate (such as the disorganization of the material which
        even I said was one of my goals in Mill of Time to try to straighten
        out) but he went way too far in throwing the baby out with the bath water.

        I think de Santillana's indignation was justified.


        > The New York Review of Books Feb. 12, 1970, p. 36.
        >
        >
        >
        > Bedtime Story
        >
        >
        >
        > Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend.
        Gambit, 484
        > pp., $10.00
        >
        >
        >
        > Edmund Leach
        >
        >
        >
        > As will presently be apparent, my reaction to this book is hostile
        -- so,
        > before my prejudices get out of hand, let me try to explain what it
        is all
        > about. Both authors are internationally celebrated professors of the
        History
        > of Science, the one from M.I.T., the other from Frankfurt. The
        latter has
        > the additional qualification of having been a pupil of Leo Frobenius the
        > romantically inclined German ethnologist who, in 1897, originated the
        > concept of Kulturkrels, an intellectual tool by means of which the
        > geographical distribution of cultural elements might be used to
        reconstruct
        > an historical sequence of hypothetical past civilizations
        >
        >
        >
        > In later years, when the Kulturkreislehre had been misappropriated
        by the
        > ethnologists of the Vienna school, the distinctive feature of
        Frobenius's
        > theorizing was the concept of Ergriffenheit (emotional involvement),
        which
        > he held to be "the crucial event in the emergence of a culture. Once
        man is
        > gripped by the world about him, the particular nature of the things
        in his
        > world and the existential order within which he lives are revealed
        to him."
        > Frobenius has never been highly regarded by the professional
        anthropologists
        > of the Anglo-Saxon world though, in retrospect, it can be seen that
        his work
        > had a powerful influence on Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture
        (1935) and
        > thence derivatively on the "Culture and Personality" phase of American
        > anthropology.
        >
        >
        >
        > All this is relevant because the murky confusion generated by
        reading any
        > random twenty pages of Hamlet's Mill is strongly reminiscent of
        Frobenius.
        > Indeed, the whole operation is not much more than a gloss on two
        early works
        > of that extraordinary author, Die Mathematik der Oceaner (1900) and Das
        > Zeitalter des Sonnengottes (1904).
        >
        >
        >
        > Th. theme of Hamlet's Mill is that once upon a time (when or where
        is not
        > very clear, but 4000 B.C. somewhere in the Middle East seems to be
        what the
        > authors have in mind) there was an archaic civilization whose
        members had a
        > sophisticated theory of the relations between time and astronomy. This
        > theory rested on an understanding of the annual cycle of the
        constellations
        > of the Zodiac and a recognition of the precession of the equinoxes,
        > knowledge of which had been incorporated into a coherent
        cosmological schema
        > expressed in the language of myth. Later mythological systems whether
        > recorded in Greece in the fourth century B.C., in Scandinavia in the
        twelfth
        > century A.D., or North Africa, or Guiana, or Polynesia at the
        present day,
        > are all truncated remnants of this ancient astrological-astronomical
        > mythology, and close attention to these "relics, fragments and allusions
        > that have survived the steep attrition of the ages" will allow part
        of the
        > ancient knowledge to be reconstructed.
        >
        >
        >
        > The particular fragment with which our authors are specially
        concerned is
        > the poetic image by which the rotation of the sky around the pole
        star was
        > conceived as a gigantic upper millstone driven. by a cosmic whirlpool
        > (maelstrom). The product of the mill was not only the salt and sand
        of the
        > sea and soil of the earth but the astrological destiny of each
        individual
        > human being.
        >
        >
        >
        > Whether any such cosmic legend ever existed anywhere at all, all in one
        > piece, seems. on the evidence of this book, to be extremely doubtful but
        > those who want to believe in such improbabilities as flying saucers are
        > never likely to be put off by mere lack of evidence. The protests of
        > Doubting Thomas can always be smothered by an avalanche of erudite
        footnotes
        > -- of which anon.
        >
        >
        >
        > The whole enterprise is rather like a demonstration that Francis
        Bacon wrote
        > the plays of William Shakespeare. Provided you are certain of your
        answers
        > before you start, the clues and acrostics can be found almost
        anywhere. If
        > you look hard enough, cosmic mills will emerge from the circle of
        Stonehenge
        > or the painted calendars of Cortes's Mexico -- who knows? All things are
        > possible.
        >
        >
        >
        > Had the authors set themselves a more modest objective, their
        problem need
        > not have proved wholly intractable. Every human society necessarily
        operates
        > within some kind of framework of cosmological ideas which enable the
        people
        > concerned to count on the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow
        > morning and that the moon will wax and wane over the next thirty
        days. But
        > we know that such cosmological systems can vary enormously, and our
        authors'
        > insistence that between about 4000 B.C. and 100 A.D. a single
        archaic system
        > prevailed throughout most of the civilized and protoúcivilized world
        is pure
        > fantasy. Their attempt to delineate the details of this system by
        > abstraction from a worldú wide scatter of random oddments of
        mythology is no
        > more than an intellectual game.
        >
        >
        >
        > If they had concentrated their analysis onto a geographically more
        limited
        > range of materials, they could at least have produced a readable
        book which
        > might then perhaps have carried some conviction.
        >
        >
        >
        > As it is, only now and again, when the far-flung argument happens to
        impinge
        > on something that we know already, does the text begin to make any
        sense at
        > all. There is a nice point, for example, with regard to time and
        space. In
        > Descartes's system, which is roughly our own, space provides the fixed
        > coordinates and time is that which moves, but "In Plato's philosophy,
        > Archaic Time stayed intact ... [it] is the universe, like it
        circular and
        > definite. It is the essence of definition .... In that world it was
        Space
        > which, if taken by itself, brought in indefiniteness and
        incoherence" (p.
        > 340]. Unfortunately, gems of this sort are hard to find. Something
        like 60
        > percent of the text is made up of complex arguments about Indo-European
        > etymologies which would have seemed old-fashioned as early as 1870.
        >
        >
        >
        > Hamlet's name in the title is just a come-on, his connection with
        the story
        > is tenuous. Shakespeare's hero derived from Saxo Grammaticus's
        Amlethus and
        > in an Icelandic work written about 1230 A.D. there is a reference to
        a place
        > where "the sea is called AmIodhi's Mill." This is, I think, the only
        extant
        > reference to the "shadowy Icelandic Amlodhi," but we are assured that
        > scholarship has shown that he is "identical" with Amlethus and hence
        with
        > Hamlet. What this means, I don't know. This kind of playing with
        names is
        > characteristic of the whole exercise and leads back to an even more
        > ancestral figure than Frobenius, namely the nineteenth-century
        Sanskritist,
        > Max Mueller. The latter was the originator of the doctrine that all
        > mythology is "a disease of language" resulting from the
        personification of
        > natural phenomena and the subsequent confusion of names.
        >
        >
        >
        > One of Mueller's examples was: "Luchegenes, the son of light-Apollo, was
        > changed into a son of Lycia, Delios, the bright one, which gave rise
        to the
        > myth of the birth of Apollo in Delos." Hamlet's Mill is packed with this
        > sort of thing, but the authors have got a bit behind the times. To
        take one
        > example of many: It was proposed by Kuhn in 1852 that the name
        Prometheus is
        > a corruption of Sanskrit Pra-mantha, a fire stick. Although this
        etymology
        > has long ago been completely rejected as linguistically quite impossible
        > (see Pauly-Wissowa Real Encyclopaedie Vol. XXXIII (i) (1957) p. 690)
        > Hamlet's Mill (pp. 139ff.) not only resurrects the equation but gives it
        > enormous elaboration so that Prometheus's fall from celestial grace
        is made
        > to provide evidence that our ancestors of 6000 years ago could
        recognize a
        > shifting in the position of the Pole Star!
        >
        >
        >
        > This is all so silly that perhaps the proper treatment of the book
        would lie
        > to rate it as bedtime reading for the children -- in its mixed-up way it
        > does contain many picturesque fables -- but more serious condemnation is
        > unavoidable. After all, the subject matter, the place of myth in human
        > thought, has considerable importance and is currently the focus of much
        > scholarly attention. The authors of Hamlet's Mill are persons of
        > distinction, and their views carry weight: where then does their
        book fit in
        > with the rapidly expanding literature in this field? The answer is:
        not at
        > all. Despite their claims to scholarship the authors avoid all
        reference to
        > the currently relevant literature! This Is quite a feat and calls for
        > elaboration.
        >
        >
        >
        > The bibliography runs to thirty pages and includes at a rough
        estimate 750
        > separate items; in addition almost every page is heavily laden with
        notes.
        > in the Germanic style. These footnotes include dozens, perhaps
        hundreds, of
        > references which do not. appear in the bibliography. Since the
        Leitmotif of
        > the book is that myth incorporates an ancient pre-classical corpus of
        > astronomical knowledge, one might have expected that, in all this
        welter of
        > supporting documentation, the authors would have found space to give the
        > reader some clear guide as to where he might look for other recent
        (or even
        > not so recent) treatments of the same theme, but this is not the case.
        >
        >
        >
        > On the cosmological side, the names of Duhem, Martin, and Heath are all
        > missing, and equally, in the field of myth analysis, the names of
        Cassirer,
        > Levi-Strauss , Eliade, and even Robert Graves, whose celebrated The
        White
        > Goddess (1948) was an essay in the same style. Cassirer, it is true,
        earns
        > as an afterthought three pages of un-called-for abuse (pp. 326-328)
        > apparently because the authors had come across his Philosophy of
        Symbolic
        > Forms (1924) only as they ere going to press, but in all other
        respects they
        > choose to ignore almost completely nearly everything that has been
        written
        > about their subject matter over the past forty years. The single major
        > exception is that they approve of Griaule's work relating to the
        > cosmological ideas of the Dogon of West Africa. Academic arrogance
        of this
        > sort is impenetrable; in the certitude of their faith our authors
        are bound
        > to dismiss all criticism as tendentious and so, as critic, I have
        nothing to
        > say except that I do not believe a word of it.
        >
        >
        >
        > But the skeptic need never feel browbeaten by the battery of
        footnotes and
        > appendices. Half the time the authors get their references wrong
        anyway. For
        > example, at p. 142 they blandly assert that "during the last hundred
        years
        > it has been taken for: granted that no one could have detected the
        > Precession (of the Equinoxes) prior to Hipparchus's alleged
        discovery of the
        > phenomenon in 127 B.C.," and they then go on to argue that evidence of a
        > much earlier understanding of the phenomenon is to be found in ancient
        > mythology. But this is just false. The issue has been discussed
        repeatedly,
        > notably by Th. H. Martin who wrote. a whole monograph on the
        subject, and
        > Duhem (Le Systeme du Monde, Volume II, Chapter 3). Incidentally, the
        topic
        > was even discussed in the fifth century A.D. One good reason
        thinking that
        > Hipparchus's discovery was not a piece of ancient knowledge
        resurrected was
        > that Proclus Diadochus (410-485 A.D.) refused to believe in the
        Precession
        > of the Equinoxes at all on the ground that, if it had been true, the
        Ancient
        > Egyptians and the Chaldeans would have been aware of it!
        >
        >
        >
        > But who cares about that?
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > * * *
        >
        >
        >
        > NY Review of Books May 7, 1970, p. 45
        >
        >
        >
        > CREDENTIALS
        >
        >
        >
        > To the Editors:
        >
        > As a constant reader of The New York Review of Books, which usually
        makes
        > excellent choices of its reviewers, may I protest the treatment Hamlet's
        > Mill received in the publication from a reviewer who was in no way
        equipped
        > to review it [NYR, February 12]. 1 am too old a hand in the writing and
        > reviewing game to be offended by adverse criticism, but-and it is a very
        > large "but"-I insist the criticism must come, if not from peers, at
        least
        > from one who indicates the limits of the training he brings to his task.
        >
        > Mr. Leach, the English anthropologist chosen to review my book, is
        cited by
        > you as the author of several books dealing with the tribal relations of
        > primitive villages, especially of the Far East. Dr. von Dechend and 1,
        > co-authors of Hamlet's Mill, are historians of science, to which
        > anthropology is a recent and very "step" relation. Moreover, ten
        years of
        > specific, studies in technical astronomy, ancient and archaeological
        history
        > and myth lie behind the writing of Hamlet's Mill. Mr. Leach was
        assigned
        > by your publication a whole page in which to evaluate the book for an
        > American audience innocent of his lack of authority-a lack of authority
        > which is not suggested in his own comment except for his kind
        allusion to
        > the reputation of the authors. The review itself, couched in
        irrelevant and
        > inapplicable terms, nonetheless implies an expert knowledge in the
        field of
        > the book and is made none the more graceful by its offensively
        jocular tone.
        >
        > In the publishing of over twenty books in my career, I have never before
        > written to protest an adverse review. This one was so totally
        unjustified
        > that I must ask you to give this letter of protest equal space and
        > prominence with Mr. Leach's review.
        >
        > Giorgio de Santillana
        >
        > Beverly, Mass.
        >
        >
        >
        > Note: The justification for asking Dr. Leach to review this particular
        > book is that he is considered an authority on two relevant topics,
        (a) the
        > analysis of myth and (b) primitive time reckoning. For the latter
        competence
        > see his paper "Primitive Time 'Reckoning" in C. Singer, E.J.
        Holmyard, and
        > A. R. Hall, A History of Technology, Vol. I (Oxford: Clarendon
        Press, 1954),
        > pp. 110-127.
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.