Publisher's Weekly


"Rights Alert"


February 27, 2001

 

Publishers Weekly

Rights Alert

February 27, 2001

 

Rosetta Pioneer Story Preempted

A book about the French scholar who unlocked the secrets of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics by deciphering the Rosetta Stone 200 years ago has been preempted by executive editor Dan Smetanka at Ballantine for a "significant" six figures for world rights.

The offer was based on a proposal by Columbia-trained writer and historian Daniel Myerson, for a book to be called, "The Linguist and the Emperor", and both Smetanka and agent Noah Lukeman noted its kinship with last year’s surprise hit, "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester, about the creation of the Oxford dictionary.

Myerson’s story centers on the obsessive intellectual Francois Champollian, one of the scholars Napoleon took with him when he conquered Egypt, and his years of struggle to decipher the mysterious writings in the ancient Egyptian tombs. He eventually went mad, and his researches were published by his brother after his death.

Smetanka is expecting a manuscript in about a year, having beaten several publishers to the punch with his offer. The sale was the first made by Lukeman since he recently sold his agency to AMG/Renaissance, as previously reported in Rights Alert.

 

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