A NEW LOW IN RIPPEROLOGY,
This review is from: The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper (Paperback)
For famed Ripperologist Paul Begg to have sullied his hands with this ridiculous and ludicrous purported "Autobiography of Jack the Ripper" is very sad. On the back cover Mr. Begg is quoted as saying: "It is either a genuine confession by Jack the Ripper, or it's an extraordinary novel...Only you can decide." Mr. Begg knows better: it is NOT a genuine confession and it is NOT an extraordinary novel. What it is is a hoax, pure tripe, an absolute insult to anyone with half-a-brain.
Here goes an encapsulation of how this mystery manuscript came to be: in 2007 a chap who runs a toy museum in England buys a bunch of memorabilia from the estate of one S.G. Beaman who created Toytown and Larry the Lamb back in the 1920's. Amongst the items he buys is an unpublished manuscript by one James Carnac who claims he was Jack the Ripper. Carnac supposedly left his manuscript to Beaman, you see, and now the toy store gent gets the mystery manuscript published and backed by one-who-should-know-better Begg and what do you know, folks, ca-ching! Mirth and merriment, most likely, all the way to the bank!
So I read the transcript and our Jolly Jack Carnac comes out with a most ridiculous tale of his chats with X, some executioner ancestor in skin-tight black clothes who shows Carnac a fully functioning torture chamber on some apparently ultra-dimensional plane of existence and gives him a bow at the scene of the murder of Long Liz - and this Carnac also hears The Voice - and he can bore us to tears with descriptions of X and mention long talks with him but offer us naught of what was actually said or discussed - same as when he recounts his time with last victim Mary Kelly - he can recall all of the minute details of the room but remembers zip of what she said. Yet, on the other hand, he can go on and on ad nauseam with Polly Nichol's dialect and dialogue! All the while I was reading this long-winded nonsense I was picturing Johnny Carson's Carnac the Magnificent instead of this obviously phony writer prowling around the dark, dreary streets of Whitechapel, 1888. What a mental picture that was! Anyhow, the alleged autobiography is simply shallow: no details of the murders, no vivid sense of time or place, no conviction of motive - for example, Carnac obsesses about slitting throats whether it be his fantasies about his uncle's fat throat or his fiancee's - yet with his first kill, does he cut the lady's throat? No, he stabs her 39 or so times instead. In this manuscript there is NO explanation or description of the total destruction the true Ripper visited upon his victims. None. After reading this book I felt...suckered. I also felt betrayed. Betrayed by Begg. Utterly.
I have, I believe, all of Paul Begg's books on the Ripper. And there are a lot of them! And they are scholarly and serious. Why then did he have to tarnish his credibility by getting involved with what is obviously a hoax - unless he is completely in on it! Either the toy man was the hoaxer and he typed up this hokum on old paper with old typewriters - or someone in the Beaman family did so - or even Beaman himself. Yes, even though Begg argues that it is almost impossible to believe that gentle, loveable, Toytown creator Beaman could write such a book, the fact is...he could have! Who would have thought that Anne Rice would go from Lestat to Jesus in her writings? Better yet, from Beauty's BDSM S/M trilogy to the Christ? People, alas, have dark sides. The point is...anyone could have hoaxed the stupid autobiography - and if Begg had simply written his introduction and analysis around the obvious fact that the manuscript was an interesting addition to the annals of Ripperature fiction, then his credibility would not have been strained. But it is strained. Here's why: in Begg's extremely superficial analysis at the end of the book we learn that there is no record of there ever having even been a James Carnac! But Begg does not go further in his analysis to tell us whether the people mentioned in the autobiography ever existed: such as schoolteacher Dr. Styles or Carnac's love Julia Norcote or even Carnac's landlady Mrs. Hamlett whom Carnac supposedly roomed with when he wrote his bogus book! Or what of the historicity of the fire that supposedly claimed Carnac's life - or the coroner's charge to the jury regarding the fire at Mrs. Hamlett's rooming house? Are there no records? No newspaper accounts? Something to lend credibility to the supposed facts of the manuscript? Surely we, the readers, deserve a deeper analysis of the historical record before we are left to decide for ourselves, as Begg suggests we do, whether the book we've just read is authentic or not. An historian of Begg's caliber and credentials owes his readers more! In his analysis we are informed the actual manuscript came with a hand-crafted cover depicting a pool of blood on cobblestones. Why are we not shown the actual cover of the manuscript instead of a few sample pictures of the typewritten pages? Who created the cover? Carnac - or the toy-making, artist Beaman? The question of the cover is not even raised in the un-detailed analysis by Begg. But the biggest dereliction, in my estimation, on the part of our eminent historian in his shoddy analysis deals with a possible inspiration for the manuscript, if it was indeed a work of fiction and possibly written by Beaman. Begg mentions other books on the Ripper that may have influenced or inspired someone - potentially Beaman - to write the purported autobiography. Amongst these is Marie Belloc Lowndes's novel THE LODGER, printed as a story in 1911 and published as a book in 1913. Now, according to the paper trail and Begg's analysis, the Ripper autobiography was written sometime betwixt 1928-1930 by either Beaman or Beaman as Carnac or someone else using the phony name of Carnac who might have been the actual Jack the Ripper - although why a man making a confessional as to his being Jack the Ripper would use a fake name at all is a mystery in itself! The point is this: in the manuscript, Carnac admits to a love of movies. At about the time he is supposedly writing his memoirs, he recommends to his landlady she go see the movie WAXWORKS, a film from the silent era. One of the wax figures in the film is Jack the Ripper and this upsets the landlady for reasons I need not go into here. The problem is this: Begg knows full well that Hitchcock's version of THE LODGER hit the theaters in 1927 - and yet he does NOT cite the popularity of that film as having been a highly likely catalyst in the 1928 - 1930 writing of the fictive autobiography. Further circumstantial evidence that the true author was, therefore, most probably Toytown creator Beaman is that Beaman, an artist, also had connections to Pathe Films late in life and was, like the alleged Carnac, highly interested in films! Beaman also, late in life (he died in 1932) illustrated an edition of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE - and, of course, the play of the classic novel is mentioned in Carnac's manuscript. And if the creator of Toytown could conjure up images of Mr. Hyde, he could surely also have fantasized a fiction about ever-popular Jack the Ripper! Also, one of Beaman's great uncles was a writer of four popular mystery novels published betwixt 1925 - 1928. Of course, the possibility of the uncle having written the manuscript or the fact that his uncle's success in the mystery fiction field may have inspired Beaman to try his hand at such a book as well is never considered at all in Begg's "extremely detailed analysis" - as it is so described in this book's introduction.
Didn't we have enough nonsense with the Maybrick Diary of Jack the Ripper or Knight's debunked Final Solution or Wallace's Lewis Carrol idiocies? Why come out with a book with this emblazoned on the cover - "In His Own Words, the Confession of the World's Most Infamous Killer" - when the publisher and their shill Paul Begg know full well that the book they are 'begging' you to buy is in no way an actual, authentic autobiography of Jack the Ripper? I wouldn't be surprised if they make a movie out of this b.s. next.