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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Having previously read and greatly enjoyed The Aerodrome, I sat down this morning and read Rex Warner’s second novel, The Professor. I’d say it is a remarkable and interesting book that does something strange with notions of education, war, and fascism.

What annoyed me, though, was that I cannot recommend that anybody seek to read this book in the Faber Finds edition that I had been given by my wife (ISBN: 9780571243181). It is eminently clear to me that nobody who gives a shred of care for the reputation of Faber & Faber had read the volume that they are selling. Among the catalogue of errors in this edition I spotted, with some specific textual instances from the first page:

  • There are virtually no full stops (periods) throughout. But there are some, indicating that it is unlikely that this is a printers error.
  • “Over-riding” was misspelled as “over-ridmg”.
  • “Harder” was misspelled as “haider”.

These general patterns were continued throughout the book. Indeed, most instances of “in” within words were changed to an “m”. The letter “r” frequently became an “i” such that the main character was referred to on two (I think) occasions as “the Professoi”. Paragraphs were unevenly spaced. Arbitrary incorrect and unnecessary characters (such as a rogue “>” on page 47) appeared throughout.

Faber Finds gives itself the following blurb: “Faber Finds is devoted to restoring to readers a wealth of lost or neglected classics and authors of distinction.” I would suggest, in my experience of reading the book, that “restoring” here simply means running their previous manuscript through an imperfect OCR procedure and then reprinting without a proper proofing stage.

Edit: others have also pointed this out.