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A Redacted Translation.....

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  • A Redacted Translation.....

    Was everyone, but me, aware that the phrase "Letters From Hell" was the 1884 title of a "redacted" publication, (translated and ?) edited by the popular Scottish religious writer, George MacDonald?
    It may have been a Macmillan publication, but I have not tracked it further.
    Apparently (according to a digitised Sydney Australia newspaper in which I first saw mention) it was being re-released by Macmillan in 1911, and the Sydney Morning Herald said:

    "Letters From Hell" has been a great success since its first appearance in 1884".

    Please excuse me if I'm covering ground already gone over!

    MacDonald prepared a Preface for the 1884 book.

  • #2
    Yeah, I own this book. It's a heavy read.

    Yours truly,

    Tom Wescott

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    • #3
      Here's an essay I published 9 or so years ago about this book. No revelations, but it was worth a look.

      http://www.casebook.org/dissertation...spiration.html

      Yours truly,

      Tom Wescott

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      • #4
        Way Ahead of Me Tom!

        Thanks very much for pointing me to your long-ago discovery, Tom.

        I agree more work needs to be done on these obscure literary and Biblical references. Many of which no longer ring bells with the general populace.

        Sounds like a turgid but interesting tome, nonetheless. As for MacDonald's editorialising and his intruding himself into the actual text. If you Google
        "Letters From Hell" you will find a great fan of MacDonald's has listed the timeline of all his published works. Most interestingly, he quotes from MacDonald how he chopped off sentences in Sir Philip Sidney's poems;and
        changed words to give the gist of a longer sentence.

        So, thanks Tom. And thanks especially for sharing your Ripper Notes article with Casebook readers.

        The two strands in the Hell book you point out are the "Letters/Post Office" and the "Jewish Town". Of course, the Bible looms largely: Bunyanesque imagery.

        Speaking of Biblical references in JTR letters:

        Regarding the legend that JTR had suicided: have you ever read of a JTR letter sent around the time of the Coles murder, quoting a hymn or Bible Passage or favourite sermon title:
        "He Is Not Dead But Liveth"?

        JOHN RUFFELS.

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        • #5
          No...

          No...not the first edition of my book.

          Click image for larger version

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          SPE

          Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

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          • #6
            Thanks for that, John. And thanks, Stewart, for posting the cover.

            Yours truly,

            Tom Wescott

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            • #7
              This is SO weird. In the winter of 2009 while in Chicago I first started perusing casebook as a non-member, I was reading up about the Ripper letters, and I happened to read a dissertation (by a Thomas C. Wescott, but without noticing the name in any fashion) about the book Letters from Hell. At that point I was severely preoccupied by an email of “defamation“ written by my (angry) boss to a young librarian responsible for the Houghton collection at Harvard, and after things got sorted out (as the librarian turned out to be a totally decent, intelligent girl, who totally ignored this attempt of him to “harm“ me) and after a lot of remoteness, I used the following quote from the Letters from Hell book in an email to my boss, whose name is incidentally Philip (Gossett), with the title of the email being Letters from Hell (and I still have the email in question):
              In 'Letter XII', Philip discusses his trip to Hell's post office, whereupon he discovers exactly how accountable people are for the words they write, be it crank letters, letters of defamation, letters or treason, or even the forgery of a signature.
              “I had gone to inquire for letters. You have heard of what befell Uriah. There have always been people who, betraying their neighbor, have done so by writing. But the invention is older even than that notorious letter, originating, no doubt, with the father of lies in the first place. It was he who inspired that piece of treachery, just as he inspired Judas' kiss. Treason by writing is known all over the world now. There are those who delight in the cleverness of such a letter, quite priding themselves on the art of taking in their fellows. But such letters are not all: there are spurious documents here more than can be counted. Let men beware how they put pen to paper; writing has a terrible power of clinging to the soul. None but God Himself can blot it out.“

              As a result of this, my boss was feeling so guilty, that he (almost violently) insisted on covering the $600 costs of developing copies for an autograph score (for Spontini's opera Fernand Cortès) I had discovered at the Northwestern Library, which had nothing whatsoever to do with his own research and work. Does this mean that I owe Tom Wescott $600?!
              I just started reading his dissertation (for which he put a link on this thread) a moment ago out of iddle curiosity, then I suddenly remembered all this, and I was completely floored! At least now I remembered when I first started perusing casebook, but isn't this a little freakish, or am I simply exaggerating?
              With many apologies for posting this boring, trite little story here,
              Best regards,
              Maria

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mariab
                Does this mean that I owe Tom Wescott $600?!
                I am the Alpha and the Omega of Ripperology.

                Yours truly,

                Tom Wescott

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                • #9
                  and I'm the underbelly.

                  Now what's "redact" mean again?

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                  • #10
                    I think it means put out there and then pulled back. Like when a woman says 'let's make sexy good times', then when you're fixin' to get jiggy, she says 'you best step off'. What has happened is the woman has redacted her sweet, sweet lovin'.

                    Yours truly,

                    Tom Wescott

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      And I'm the dirt under the shoes of Ripperology – at the lowest, lowest spot on the pyramid, as I haven't managed to read Sugden, The ultimate, and Scotland Yard investigates yet. (The latter arrived just yesterday.) And I'm afraid I'm not even sure of how soon I'll be able to read them, due to a situation of intense job/fellowship hunting right now (we're talking 6 different applications with a deadline in early November, so it's safe to say I know too well how Mary Kelly must have felt with the rent, plus I feel like a total whore when asking people for recommandation letters and stuff). As for the new A-Z, I'll wait until the hopefully “redacted“ paperback edition to make a purchase!

                      Scott Nelson wrote:
                      Now what's "redact" mean again?

                      I think in this case (for the British version of Letters from Hell from 1886) “redacted“ means that the translator also changed a few things in the book's content, such as cuts and possibly additions, according to what he expected would interest the British readers vs the German/Danish ones. In the next years I'm supposed to attempt such a “redaction“ of my first book (in German) for its American adaptation, that is, if I manage to optimize the first (German) manuscript for going into print next year, and if I manage to survive the next weeks (which sometimes it feels like it would be better if I didn't, honestly).

                      Tom Wescott wrote:
                      I think it means put out there and then pulled back. Like when a woman says 'let's make sexy good times', then when you're fixin' to get jiggy, she says 'you best step off'. What has happened is the woman has redacted her sweet, sweet lovin'.

                      Tom, bitter, much?
                      By the way, I haven't managed to re-read your stuff yet (I only read the dissertation on Letters from Hell, and still recovering), but I was curious and looked inside The Old Bailey, but it looks like they don't feature any historical records in there, just current stuff. (?!) Most probably I must have missed something, so I'm gonna look again, when less exhausted.
                      Things are a bit (Diem-)shitzy right now, but I hope they'll get better soon.
                      And actually I really meant to thank you, because you (unknowingly) kinda helped me by quoting this “Philip in the Hell's post office“ part from Letters from Hell. Now how I happened to read that article of yours, without knowing you and possibly during my very first visit of casebook, PRECISELY during the time when my boss (named Philip) was “abusing“ me a bit per letter, is a mystery. But it's good to know that a quote from an old and forgotten book can have so much impact today, when quoted in the right situation...
                      Best regards,
                      Maria

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well said Maria! precisely the theme here.

                        Well said Maria,
                        The last line of your last post.(Post! Oh dear!).
                        Thanks Stewart for posting the chilling cover of your predecesser's book.
                        And it looks like we all owe TomWescott for breaking the ground for the rest of us.
                        The title of the book shows just how easy it would be to thread coincidences together and come up with some jim-crack theory about JTR.
                        Apologies to Stewart for not having read his book Letters From Hell. Doubtless, he will have provided all the answers to my two questions at the head of this stream.
                        I really enjoyed the coinciding of your earlier experiences Maria.
                        Marvellous use of well-expressed words from the past to spear recalcitrants from the present!
                        JOHN RUFFELS.

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                        • #13
                          To Johnr:
                          I apologize for having posted my trite little story with the coinciding experiences from my (possibly) first visit on casebook, Letters from Hell, and the UofC. Still, it was fascinating to see how the well-expressed words from the Hell post office scene from 1886 instantly "put the fear of God" 123 years later upon my Jewish American boss (despite the both of us being definite atheists).
                          On another tone, I very much enjoyed your very hilarious post in the A-Z thread!
                          Pertaining to the OTHER Letters from Hell, by SPE, it just arrived yesterday, and I can't wait to read it, among Sugden, The ultimate, and SC investigates. (Even if I'm afraid it'll take a few weeks until I can indulge in this, after my current terrible workload eases up a bit.)
                          I'm very impressed too that Tom Wescott discovered Letters from Hell and interpreted the possibilities between the book's title and the infamous Ripper letter already 10 years ago, but I'd almost feel cautious of keep praising him too much for“breaking the ground for the rest of Ripperology“, 'cause, did you see his last 2 posts?! Kinda looks to me like someone's head's about toexplode, Tom? You'd better watch out with that!

                          Regarding the legend that JTR had suicided after Mary Kelly and the JTR letter sent around the time of the Coles murder and quoting the hymn/Bible passage "He is not dead, but liveth", I'm frankly not too surprised that even hoax letter writers at that time took advantage of these notions.
                          Best regards,
                          Maria

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