I spent quite a lot of the weekend reading rival papers - though whether that is an accurate description of editions that predated The Independent's existence I'm not sure. It was fascinating, anyway, to browse through facsimile editions of daily and Sunday papers printed at the time of the Normandy landings - part of last week's D-Day commemorations. Who would have thought that the Manchester Guardian would devote quite so much front-page space to the German News Agency's version of events? And didn't readers get a little weary of all those commercial promises of better tomorrows? "Whenever I see hands in a stocking, I think: `Ah...' ", read the copyline on one small ad. "Sigh no more lady", it continued, "The fruits of victory will include a plentiful supply of lovely, clinging Aristoc." Comforting to know that the sacrifices were in a good cause, I suppose.
For obvious reasons, the sacrifices themselves didn't feature very notably in the reports from the new front. "Our Losses `Far Less Than We Apprehended' " read one headline, quoting the prime minister, and there were no detailed figures anywhere. As a result, these editions were more jubilant than poignant - except in one narrow respect. Because the literary pages turned out to be a kind of cenotaph to fallen reputations - a Tomb of the Unknown Authors. Not all of the names were obscure, it's true: there was a single- column ad for the sixth volume of James Agate's diary, Ego 6, for instance, and the romantic novelist Ursula Bloom rang a bell too (not entirely surprising when you discover that she wrote nearly 500 novels). There were other authors who, while they may be unread (or under-read) these days, couldn't exactly be described as unknown: Eric Linklater, Neil M Gunn and Christopher Sykes among them.
But what about L Schwarzschild, whose book World in Trance was described as "one of the most exciting books of recent years"? Worth a small niche in history, you might think, but run a Google search on it and you score very few results. L Schwarzschild's once-bright flame still flickers as part of the Required Reading list for Political Studies 46 at Pitzer College, California. I hope it has copies in the library, because Amazon.com can turn up only bibliography references in other men's books.
Ira Wolfert's Tucker's People fares a little better - as …