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"The Dandy" delayed

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Manton, Jun 27, 2005.

  1. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    The book began life as a graduate school joke, sort of a time-waster, really. Â I was writing a thesis on The Prince, with particular attention paid to the structure of the work. Â As it happens, I had recently bought my first pair of Edward Greens. Â So one night I was up late working on the thesis and drinking what should have been a very expensive bottle of burgundy (got cheap because the liquor store seemed not to know or care what it was). Â I kept taking little breaks to admire my as-yet-unworn shoes. Â Then I thought: what if Nick had written The Prince about how to dress instead of how to rule? Â At 1 am, with a belly full of burg, that seemed pretty funny. So I started writing a table of contents. Â 26 chapters, just like The Prince, in the same 16th-Century-Florentine-translated-into-English style. Â (I used the Mansfield translation, which is slightly less literal than Alvarez, but captures Nick's style and humor better than any other, in my opinion.) Â But I ran into problems getting the structure just right. Â The more I thought about it, the harder is seemed to be, so I just went to be with the thing unfinished. When I woke up I took another look at it, and was amused. Â Not as bad as I expected to find it. Â Now, if there is one thing I am good at, it is procrastinating. Â So I was delighted to have this new excuse to neglect my graduate work. Â I started to really delve in. Â I wrote the dedication and the first two chapters. Â These were fairly short and easy to do, since I already knew how they had to fit into the overall plan. Â Certain parts of the plan also seemed clear, but there were also some major problems. Â I was still not sure that I would ever write the whole book -- I hadn't even really thought about it -- but I became determined to get the outline (really the table of contents) just right. Â It became a challenge. Â I worked on that for a long time before I started writing the book in earnest. Â Even then there were some thorny issues that I didn't really resolve until very late in the game. Â And even then, I had to take certain liberties with Machiavelli's structure. Â The overall plan is very close, but Nick's book is also a little rabbit warren of subsections, and I found it mostly (not entirely) impossible to adequately mimic those. Anyway, I worked on it on and off for eight years. Â Sometimes I would not touch it for more than a year. Â Other times I would work on it flat out for six months. Â It's been "done" for a while now, though I am constantly rewriting and polishing. Â (When I "finished," it was about 45,000 words; now it is 52,000. Â Still a short book, but I have crammed a great deal more information in.) Â I have also sent parts or the whole thing to several people for "fact checks" and suggestions, etc. Â Their efforts have greatly improved it, and saved me from more than a few embarrassing errors. As to what it is: as I said, it is a close parody (as close as I could make it) of Machiavelli's Prince. Â It mimics the structure, the writing style, the tone, and a number of Machiavelli's literary devices. Â It approaches its subject matter in the same way: reason from experience and observation, and use other source material as "matter." Â It also uses examples quite liberally, in just the way that Nicky does. Â I state my opinions, in a way that is ... forceful, just like Nick. Â I make the strongest case I can for classic clothes and "Savile Row"/1930s/Apparel Arts/bespoke style. Â I discuss other traditions, sometimes favorably, other times disparagingly, but always in good fun. But, just as The Prince is more than a "how to rule" guide, so my book is more than a how to dress guide. Â There is a great deal of history in it. Â If a "rule" has an origin, I say what it is, or is believed to be. Â If it does not, I say that too. Â There are also concentrated passages of "philosophy" on how clothing affects and is effected by human behavior. Now, one thing this book is not is "scientific" or "definitive" or whatever. Â It does not attempt to prove things that cannot be proved (e.g., that sleeve buttons should, or should not, kiss). Â It does not attempt to definitively resolve irresolvable historical controversies, e.g., I did not go to Greenwich to search the Royal Navy archives for the true origin of the blazer, just as Nicky did not go to Rome to research the early republic, but instead relied on Livy, Polybius, etc. Â I rely on all the many sources I have been able to collect and examine. Â I do pass judgment on certain stories, some of which I believe, others I don't, and still others I can't say. Â This, too, is in keeping with the way Nicky treats his sources. Â For instance, sometimes he flatly says he does not believe Livy, other times that he thinks even Livy does not believe a story that he relates, etc. As to the title: it seemed obvious to me at the time: I needed one word that means "well-dressed man," and what other word is there? Â As I said, I do try, in the text, to rescue the word from ignominy. Â But if people are so put off by the title that they never read the text, a lot of good that will do me. Now, there is some bit of scholarly controversy about what the title of The Prince really is. Â Nick does indicate, in a letter, that he considered the title to be On Principalities. Â The book was not published in his lifetime or under his direct supervision, so perhaps we will never know. Â Anyway, I suppose I could try something like On Dressing Well. Â Doesn't grab me though. I do think that the title has to be in keeping with the style and tone of the contents, which means that it has to have some connection to Machiavelli. Â I have not been able to come up with anything better than The Dandy. Â It has a lot of virtues: it's short; it closely parallels The Prince; it is, if not unique, at least a rarely enough used word that it might grab people; I think it's sort of funny. Â Plus it relates to the text (and certain carefully plotted word usage within the text) in a way that I would hate to lose. All right, I could go on, but I won't.
     
  2. Steve B.

    Steve B. Well-Known Member

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    Manton:

    Congrats on the new publisher...

    I know it will do well, and I want more than one copy...
     
  3. Walter

    Walter Well-Known Member

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    How about "the prince of elegance"
     
  4. Dakota rube

    Dakota rube Well-Known Member

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    A bit better than yesterday, all day vomiting for
    The Fresh Prince of Saville Row (I'd love to see Manton rappin') [​IMG]
     
  5. Fabienne

    Fabienne Well-Known Member

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    I vote for keeping "The Prince" and adding to it in various ways.

    The Prince in his dressing room, The Prince Dresses, The Prince and his wardrobe, The Prince on elegance etc, etc...
     
  6. tjmaglio

    tjmaglio Active Member

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    Manton,

    Sorry to hear about the delay. I've been involved in book projects before and am curious to know how you'll use the extra time. If our publisher hadn't insisted on deadlines, I think we'd still be refining the books we worked on and I'm sure you're the same.
    Say, is there a chance either the styleforum or askandy gets a mention or reference in your book?

    Thanks,
    Tom

    [edited out questions that were answered by your last post]
     
  7. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    First book, yes. The book has been "finished" since August of 2002, but I have never really stopped working on it. I expect I will be polishing it right up until the end.
     
  8. tgfny

    tgfny Well-Known Member

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    The DaVinci Robe

    Midnight in the Closet of Good and Evil

    Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and Well Dressed Questionable Uncle

    The World is Flat as Are My Trousers

    French Women Don't Get Fat and French Men Don't Wear Brown

    Angels, Demons, and Dandys
     
  9. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Will you have anything on NÃ[​IMG]cessaire de Voyages?
     
  10. kabert

    kabert Well-Known Member

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    I like the idea hinted at by some of the above --

    To have some kind of catchy title -- sort of like what that Brit lady did with the potentially very boring/dry book on grammar, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves," with a panda on the cover. It is a very memorable title she came up with, which presumably helped substantially in sales than if she had called it "The Art of Proper Grammar" or some such title that some would view as too academic or too snooty or too common.

    I suggest convening a titling committee and nominating RJMan as Chair, with RJ to receive for a successful title the lesser of (i) one RJ shirt, or the greater in value of (a) the lesser of (I) the median of (X) and (Y), where (X) equals the average of such royalties... Oh forget it.
     
  11. Fritz

    Fritz Well-Known Member

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    Apparently I am the only one, but I quite like "žThe Dandy". This title is in keeping with the parallel with the Prince, and I think that's important. It makes for a nice anecdote that Manton can tell to Letterman and Oprah and whoever. Or at least it can be printed on the book jacket. It also gives book critics something to write. This title makes sense, and please don't forget that books like "The Rainmaker" and " The Client" etc have found gazillions of paying customers.

    BTW this afternoon I had another look at "Prince" which is in my huge stack of started but never finished books. Pretty interesting actually. I think this time I'll read it all the way through.
     
  12. countdemoney

    countdemoney Well-Known Member

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    You may have found it yourself.
    On Principles of male style On Principles of male elegance Principles of dress Etc. A search for "principles of dress" will get you this list on amazon I look forward to your book.
     
  13. RJman

    RJman Well-Known Member

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    a) to suggest that I could surpass manton in creativity and originality in attire or in eloquence is a boundless misjudgment.

    b) I will settle for a decent night's sleep.
     
  14. modsquad

    modsquad Well-Known Member

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    The best I can do is "The Ponce."

    Wait, I got it: Big Princin' and then a subtitle explaing what the book is "Nicky Mach Decks Out the 21st Century Man" or some such.
     
  15. Huntsman

    Huntsman Well-Known Member

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    Whoa. That was an exhaustive and informative reply, Manton. Maintaining the necessary parallelism in the title is challenging. Were you going with a subtitle, "Dandy: The Prince of Style" comes to mind. Can't see how to beat "The Dandy," though, it's one-to-one. Am anticipating the release...

    Regards,
    Huntsman
     
  16. Charley

    Charley Well-Known Member

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    I do believe that a book with that title will be hard to market. Nothing really wrong with it, if the general public understood the meaning of the term. And a real shame to try to "dumb down" a book title to make a useful book marketable. If you do decide to change the title, I hope you will cover the thought process of selecting the new name - and abandoning "The Dandy" - in the foreward. A few pages explaining that could well set the stage for the rest of the book.
     
  17. Fabro

    Fabro Well-Known Member

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    I think that The Dandy is the perfect title. The only issue would be its similarity to Ellen Moers' excellent The Dandy: Brummell to Beerbohm, which is shortened on the spine to read simply The Dandy.
     
  18. naturlaut

    naturlaut Well-Known Member

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    Other than the title, have you given any thoughts on the cover design/graphics? Its communicative quality surpasses even the title. Of course, it won't make much difference if you're ordering on Amazon, but on a book shelf in Barnes & Noble, the design catches the eyes even before the title does.
     
  19. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Well-Known Member

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    Where Eagles Dare!
  20. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    Design-wise, usually simplicity is the best.

    Something along the lines of Alexey Brodovitch.
     

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