Wednesday, 9 September 2009

On weird publishing mistakes

Speaking of books and publishing, I’m always pleased when I come across some weird and unaccountable publishing mishap in one of my books, some defect that sets it apart from the common herd. A notable example is the well-known Hauerwas and Willimon book, Resident Aliens (Abingdon 1989). My copy has the following pagination: 1-32, then 65-96, then 33-64, then 97-175. I have no idea how many copies were printed like this: perhaps I’ve got a Very Rare and Lucky Copy? Or perhaps a whole print-run came out like this?

In any case, pagination like this really adds to the element of surprise: you never quite know what’s coming next. And it’s perhaps a mark of the book’s tightly focused argument that it still reads pretty coherently when you cross that boundary from p. 32 to p. 65. If you lost concentration for a moment while reading, you might not even notice. The text reads: “What we call ‘freedom’ becomes the tyranny of our own desires. We are kept detached, strangers to one another as we go about fulfilling our needs and asserting our rights. The [page break] me. I must be true to myself. The more we can be free of parents, children, spouses, duties, the more free we will be to ‘be ourselves’…”

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