Longtime readers of this blog know that I think it is important to track down the Dell editor who purchased Illuminatus! by Wilson and Shea. With all due respect to the editors who published Robert Anton Wilson's and Robert Shea's solo novels — and there have been some great ones, among them David Hartwell and Jim Frenkel — those later editors were dealing with a known quantity. Given the success of Illuminatus!, any publisher who was careful to put the words "Illuminatus" or "Illuminati' on the cover could be guaranteed an audience. The Dell editor who bought Illuminatus! purchased a very long, very weird literary work by two virtual unknowns. We are all in his or her debt.
On Wednesday, I worked up the nerve to try again to call literary superagent Al Zuckerman, literary agent for Ken Follett, Stephen Hawking, Michael Lewis, and many others. I succeeded in getting Zuckerman on the phone and explained that I wanted to know who the editor at Dell was who bought Illuminatus!.
"Fred Feldman," Zuckerman replied.
This was bad news. I explained that I had interviewed Feldman, and that he had told me that manuscript was already there when he came on board at Dell.
"Then I don't know," Zuckerman said.
Feldman got Zuckerman involved in representing Wilson and Shea. Zuckerman told me that he sold all of Wilson and Shea's subsequent novels, but that the two had sold Illuminatus! on their own, without using an agent.
I'd still like to get my question answered. Does anyone have any leads?