Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

June 23, 2011


Surviving rejections

To the editor:

Upon learning of the demise recently of Dick Wimmer, whose ultimately acclaimed novel, “Irish Wine,” was rejected 162 times over a wrenching 25 years, my mind, drawn to the excruciating rejections endured by the professoriate, inspired me to forage for anecdotes about successful writers who would not take no for an answer as they resolutely and indefatigably stayed in the game, among whom the following illustrations stand out: “This Side of Paradise,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1920), about whom the publisher said, “It seems to us in short that this story does not culminate with anything”; “The Diary of Anne Frank” (1952), who was described as “The girl [who] doesn’t have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the curiosity level”; “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” (1963), by John LeCarre, about whom the would-be publisher asserted disparagingly that “You’re welcome to LeCarre — he hasn’t got any future”; “Atlas Shrugged” (1957), by Ayn Rand, demeaned as an author whose “book is unsalable and unpublishable,” and, inter alios, George Bernard Shaw’s “Man and Superman” (1905), a writer put down belittlingly as one who “will never be popular in the usual sense of the word, and scarcely remunerative.”

The foregoing authors, along with the recently deceased Dick Wimmer, were not immobilized by failure when their literary products initially were rejected, enjoying spectacular success after having been mercilessly rejected. Unintimidated by these rebukes, they continued to believe in themselves and in the publication worthiness of their manuscripts.

No one is immune from adversity. The hallmark of achieving persons — indeed, of Pitt professors — is their — our — ability to snap back after misfortune, benefitting from — and not stopped dead in our tracks by — failure, choosing, instead, energized by fierce self-confidence, to hang in there, carrying on tenaciously, relentlessly, thumbing our noses at the snappish nay-sayers.

Robert Perloff

Distinguished Service

Professor Emeritus of Business Administration and of Psychology

Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

University Times letters policy

Letters should be submitted at least one week prior to publication. Persons criticized in a letter will receive a copy of the letter so that they may prepare a response. If no response is received, the letter will be published alone.

Letters can be sent by e-mail to or by campus mail to 308 Bellefield Hall.

The University Times reserves the right to edit letters for clarity or length. Individuals are limited to two published letters per academic term. Unsigned letters will not be accepted for publication.

Leave a Reply