As we have noted in a previous Jot, Eric Mosbacher, journalist, critic and acclaimed translator, was a hard man to please. When asked by the Souvenir Press to recommend a foreign language text for translation into English his judgement was invariably that he was unable to do so. We have already seen in a previous Jot that his failure to see the merits of ‘ The Quest for Fire ‘, probably cost the Souvenir Press oodles of money when the film adapted from another translation made many millions at the Box Office. The discovery of two further reports by Mosbacher dating from the same period show the failings of his critical judgement. He rejected Jean Ray’s horror story ‘Malpertius’ (1943) on the grounds that it had failed to make his flesh creep and was, in any case, badly put together. In 1973 this too had been made into a film starring Orson Welles and Susan Hampshire, which had been adapted from the original Flemish production of 1971. Doubtless the Souvenir Press wished to cash in on its success, but Eric said no, and that was that.
In 1979 Gustav Meyrink’s bizarre tale of 1916, ‘Das Grune Gesicht’ (The Green Face) had also got a thumbs down from Mosbacher, who was baffled by its’ uncanny mixture of the grotesque, the mystical, the surrealist-before-its-time.’ He couldn’t recommend a book that, in spite of all his efforts, he had not understood. Eric’s rather sardonic summary of its plot reflects his lack of enthusiasm: Continue reading