Why Frank always reads an author’s Acknowledgements…
How often do you bother to read an author’s Acknowledgements, if they are included before or after the main body of a book’s text? I must admit I always used to skip them, until, some years ago, reading Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Edward E Leslie, I was struck by the fact that his list of acknowledgements went on for pages and pages, and was far more than a mere list of names. It forms, indeed, almost a separate essay. Ever since, I invariably take a moment to check whether there is perhaps more interest in a list of acknowledgements that might be supposed.
And thus I came upon this gem from Rayner Heppenstall, about whom I have written before. The “Acknowledgements And Disclaimer” in his 1943 novel Saturnine begin unpromisingly enough, but the diligent reader is soon rewarded:
Fragments of this narrative have appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Kingdom Come, The New English Weekly and Partisan Review. It is fiction. Outside pp. 130-134, all the characters are imaginary, and no further reference is made to a living or recently deceased person except Messrs. L. N. Fowler of Ludgate Circus, Dr. Pearson of the Middlesex Hospital, the Grand Duke Cyril of Russia, Lifar, de Basil, Balanchine, Nijinsky, Legat and Diaghilev of the Russian ballet, Lawrence of Arabia and D. H. Lawrence, Duke Ellington, the late Canon H. R. L. Sheppard, Jessie Matthews and Sonnie Hale, Isobel Baillie and Anna Wickham, Lady Astor, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson, Gabo, Miró and George Bernanos, Gordon Craig, Heifetz and Rudolf Steiner, a number of all-in wrestlers and Joe E. Brown, Clark Gable and the Chinese naval attaché, Marshal Pétain, M. Stalin and Mr. Winston Churchill, the late Mr. Neville Chamberlain, the Hangman and the reigning house of this realm.
In pages 130-134, incidentally, we meet Oskar Kokoschka. I have absolutely no idea why he is not “excepted” like those listed above.