An eagle-eyed well-wisher has contacted us with the following contribution.
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”Quite often the secondary, and even the primary, purpose of the Dedication or Acknowledgments section in a book is, by dropping ‘names’, to lend a spurious authority to the work, perhaps beyond its merits. Jim Perrin is no exception to this common practice, but he takes it to a different level.
It is known that one book dedication, at least, was made by Perrin without the prior knowledge, still less the permission, of the distinguished named person* (a grave lapse in etiquette, but cunning, particularly as the permission referred to might very well not have been given); also that certain of his acknowledgments are of people not enamoured of him, who are nonetheless now permanently associated with him in print, an insidious form of irreversible literary stalking. Continue reading
Those who follow the erratic career of Jim Perrin may be aware of his apparently leisurely project to write a biography of the Victorian traveller and writer George Borrow, whose most well-known book is Wild Wales. Indeed Perrin has laid claim to the mantle of Borrow, at least as regards his shamelessly exculpatory association, by implication, of his own book West with Borrow’s (as Perrin calls it) ‘fictivized autobiography’, as if this justifies West‘s catalogue of offences to the dead and the living.
But we believe he can lay legitimate claim to many Borrovian characteristics. In his Introduction to the 1906 J M Dent edition of Wild Wales, Theodore Watts-Dunton wrote of its author:
A characteristic matter connected with Borrow’s translation [of a work of literature in Welsh] is that in the Quarterly Review for January 1861 he himself reviewed it anonymously, and not without appreciation of its merits—a method which may be recommended to those authors who are not in sympathy with their reviewers. The article showed a great deal of what may be called Borrovian knowledge of the Welsh language and Welsh literature, and perhaps it is not ungenerous to say a good deal of Borrovian ignorance too. Continue reading
We have discussed, for the most part, Jim Perrin’s book West — the book, his publisher later told us, ‘he should never have written’… But he, no doubt testing the water, first wrote his lies about our sister in The Climbing Essays, before transposing the entire first chapter, with added embellishments, into West. We say ’embellishments’ — they are lies, and lies of a profoundly vile nature. Unfortunately we were unaware of that earlier book’s existence; it was only when we discovered West and did further research that we read The Climbing Essays. Had we known we would have taken action earlier; if a solicitor’s letter had been sent to the publisher of the first book Jim Perrin’s worst excesses in his second (at least as far as our sister was concerned) might have been curtailed. He was however clearly quite taken with his notion of ‘his triad of tragedy’ — going so far as to invent ‘Terminal Lung Cancer’ for his third element, in West.
In the introduction to The Climbing Essays these words were used:
‘And what has distinguished him perhaps above all is his immense lack of ego. “I am not hubristic.” Jim writes, and if anyone else wrote this we would not believe them, for to deny one’s egotism is usually to demonstrate one’s egotism. But with Jim it is true’…
In similar vein the following description of Jim Perrin was posted after the ‘Tremfest’ 2014 event: ‘Jim’s style is very charming and intimate. He’s a relaxed, humble man.’
Sadly these comments are so very wide of the mark — although they do help to illustrate why so many people who, at first taken in by his charm, have been so completely hoodwinked by Jim Perrin’s undoubted guile: there are those who have discovered all too soon that his ‘charm’ is illusory…