The Gypsy Scholar

S.S. Hanna spent the 1970’s moving from one college to another in search of a tenured position, and this memoir recounts his travails in academic life. After having the manuscript rejected numerous times, Hanna included a section of rejection letters accompanied by his commentary. The present book (illustrated by rather grotesque, uncredited cartoons), although seemingly intended as a how-to, really provides nothing of use to the budding writer. The numerous rejection letters that Hanna reprints only impress the reader with the optimistic good nature of many American publishers. Though Hanna is making a statement about the unfairness of the publishing establishment, editors often returned quite long letters of advice. Neither is the book a particularly valuable record of one academic’s experience, for there have been far too many talented writers in fiction and nonfiction, such as Kingsley Amis or Randall Jarrell, who have attacked the same theme with much more success.

Unfortunately, THE GYPSY SCHOLAR serves only to remind the reader that, contrary to popular mythology, not every book that is rejected everywhere is a masterpiece in disguise.