Of course we’re not going to call them freaks of nature. Rather they’re specimens of oddities that reflect the diverse ecosystem of books.
These three books that I’ve come across in my indiscriminate reading. The first is Court of the Lion, or more fully Court of the Lion: A Novel of the T’Ang Dynasty. Clearly then this is a work of fiction; yet take a look at the authors. That’s right, authors — in the plural. This novel is a product of collaboration between two writers. While co-authorship is common in some kinds of nonfiction book production, this is the first time that I’ve seen two writers engaged in the creative process of thrashing out a novel together. Of course, prolific authors like Tom Clancy have coauthored some of their output. However, I would conjecture that authorship between Tom Clancy and anybody else is probably not collaboration among equals, and it’s unclear how close such collaboration comes to the concept of co-authorship.
The second specimen from our cabinet of oddities is Caligula by Aloys Winterling. Only one author this time, but check out the number of translators. Deborah Lucas Schneider, Glenn W. Most, and Paul Psoinos all translated from the original German. Why it took three translators to complete the work is, as far as I can tell, not explained anywhere in the text. Of course, the most famous case of translation by committee is that of the King James Bible, which was done by a team of 47 translators. If I were to use Google Translate to translate this post into any randomly chosen other language, I wonder if I can count the scores of engineers who make that little endeavor possible as my translators. In that case, I — and indeed any of you — would have a magnitude of translators larger than King James, right?
Third and last is this pure gem of a book called Di Amerikaner in Yapan or rather די אמעריקאנער אין יאפאן : רעפאָרטאזש. For those of you a bit rusty in your Yiddish, that translates to The American in Japan: A Report. Got that? American, in Japan, written in Yiddish? But that’s not the end of the tale! Note the place of publication for the book — Buenos Ayres. That’s Buenos Aires, Argentina. This delightful Yiddish language book about an American in Japan has a delightful introduction in Spanish as well! I believe it’s even Argentinian Spanish at that — with vos and all. America, Japan, Yiddish, Buenos Aires, Spanish, all roll into one book. Isn’t that neat?
(Image from dimland.)