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Monday, November 22, 2010

A few RAW mysteries

I've been sharing what I've learned so far about Robert Anton Wilson with readers of this blog. I thought I would take a moment to share what I don't know yet, and see if anyone can help.

1. Who bought ILLUMINATUS! ?
While I have certainly tried to give props to editors such as Jim Frenkel and David Hartwell who published Robert Anton Wilson's later novels, all of those decisions follow on the biggest one of all: The decision to purchase a very large, very unusual novel (split into three parts for initial paperback publication) by two then-unknown writers, Wilson and Robert Shea. I've talked to three Dell editors so far — David Harris, Frenkel and Fred Feldman — but I haven't learned yet who acquired the book. (Feldman, my most recent prime suspect, says the book had been been acquired by the time he came aboard to work on the editing of the work. My article based on my interview with Mr. Feldman will come out soon.)

2. Who did the cover for The Trick Top Hat?

The cover of the original Pocket Books paperback of the second Schroedinger's Cat book shows an attractive woman with red hair, dressed in a sexy costume, sitting on a lion. The book does not provide a credit for the cover artist. Editor David Hartwell believes the artist may have been Bob Pepper, although to my eye, the cover does not look like Pepper's other work.

3. Where is the Wilson-Shea correspondence?

Robert Anton Wilson and his ILLUMINATUS! co-author, Robert Shea, corresponded for many years; Shea continued to live in the Chicago area, but Wilson left to live in places such as California and Ireland. Wilson expressed the wish that this correspondence would be published as a book someday. In Chapter 4 of Cosmic Trigger 3, Wilson wrote that "for 23 years we wrote about every important idea in the world and filled enough paper for several volumes. I hope some of that will get published some day."

An obvious title would be The Illuminatus! Letters, or something of the sort. I would like to see such a book, but I have not been able to locate the correspondence yet.

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