Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 1029

of these painstaking editors are rustrated authors and they want to rewrite the author's book. Now Saxe Commins, as much as I loved him, suffered very badly from this fault. When he wrote himself, it was purple prose. It was the kind of thing that he would have laughed at if somebody brought it in to him, but that's the way that he wrote. He had the gall--he didn't realize it--to try to rewrite Faulkner and other authors that came in. He would tell them other phrases that he thought were better than theirs. It was done with all the good will in the world, but that kind of editing--I think it's a good idea that it is out. Max Perkins was that kind of an editor and Saxe Commins and Gene Saxton at Harper's and Harry Maule--but the breed had just died out.


For good reason do you think?


Well, it's part of the mechanism of life today. Nobody has time for painstaking work anymore. It's like the man who used to build chairs by hand or the cabinet maker--the man who took pride in his workmanship. He doesn't exist anymore.


Have you read a book that's come out of Random House, say in the last five years, that you have felt should have been edited or ever sent to the editor?

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help