“This book moves me from the world of the golden-boy poet into the dung pile of the front-line writer” Leonard Cohen’s Letter To Jack McClelland Printed – Against His Wishes – On Flowers For Hitler Back Cover

This book moves me from the world of the golden-boy poet into the dung pile of the front-line writer. I didn’t plan it this way. I loved the tender notices Spice-Box got but they embarrassed me a little. Hitler won’t get the same hospitality from the papers. My sounds are too new, therefore people will say: this is derivative, this is slight, his power has failed. Well, I say there has never been a book like this, prose or poetry, written in Canada. All I ask is that you put it in the hands of my generation and it will be recognized.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen


The above quotation was excerpted from a letter from Leonard Cohen,to Jack McClelland (the head of McClelland and Stewart, Cohen’s publisher) which was reprinted – against Cohen’s express wish – on the back cover of Flowers for Hitler.

The following excerpt is from The Fiction of Leonard Cohen by T.F. Rigelhof (published in This Is Our Writing by T.F. Rigelhof, Porcupine’s Quill, October 1, 2000):

Jack McClelland did take his next poetry book but gave the poet a lot of grief. McClelland insisted on changing the title from Opium and Hitler to Flowers for Hitler, dropping its dedication to “The Dachau Generation”, proposing a cover which featured a drawing of a nude female with Cohen’s face for tits before grudgingly accepting a compromise cover featuring elements from six different ones Cohen had designed. Then McClelland published it with a back cover blurb (taken from a letter) that was used against Cohen’s express wish. When Cohen remonstrated that “It was very important that a Jew’s book about Hitler be free from arrogant personal promotion…”, McClelland responded that the blurb didn’t hurt sales. Cohen continued to play McClelland’s games: he didn’t have many alternatives. [bolding mine]

See also Leonard Cohen Battles Publisher Over Cover Of Flowers For Hitler

Note: Originally posted January 12, 2013 at DrHGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric