Tuesday, October 06, 2009

'Twas Always Thus

I've seen some recent essays/blog posts/scrawled messages on freeway underpasses bemoaning the "recent" trend of books having long subtitles that explain everything about them. Supposedly, such subtitles never existed before very recently, and are a sign that the previously gentlemanly and genteel field of publishing has been overrun by The Wrong Sort, and that some sort of apocalypse is nigh.

Well. I don't actually believe that's true, for any definition of "that."

And I just ran across a great counter-example, mentioned in the letters column of the 9/22 New Yorker (yes, I'm running behind) -- a book from 1917 with the splendid title Henry Ford's Own Story: How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power That Goes With Many Millions, Yet Never Lost Touch With Humanity.

Even better? It was ghostwritten by none other than Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder's daughter.

Publishing: in search of a quick buck since Gutenberg.


bingol said...

A Weblog by One Humble Bookman on Topics of Interest to Discerning Readers, Including (Though Not Limited To) Science Fiction, Books, Random Thoughts, Fanciful Family Anecdotes, Publishing, Science Fiction, The Mating Habits of Extinct Waterfowl, The Secret Arts of Marketing, Other Books, Various Attempts at Humor, The Wonders of New Jersey, the Tedious Minutiae of a Boring Life, Science Fiction, No Accounting (For Taste), And Other Weighty Matters.

David said...

Have these people never read Moll Flanders?

Ray said...

I think the complaint is more that 'Catchy Title: Explanation of title that goes on and on' is boringly ever-present, not that it's new.

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