1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
Kit Williams' Masquerade broke onto the American literary scene around the holiday season of 1980. Some of the first English reviews boasted this British born painter turned author as having written an adventure with, "?unique lure, and clever publisher's gimmick, to egg [buyers] on" (Economist 82). Early American reviews, too, focused on the jewel at the end of this maddening search as more calculated than fantastical:
"The titilation of 'Masquerade' has converted Britain into arenas for shovels, metal detectors, helicopters, divining rods, and psychic mediums using everything from spirit writing to Tarot cards" (Dean 8). The concentration upon the lustrous jewel as the reason for book's success irked Williams, who openly despises gimmicks.(8) In an attempt to go beyond the obvious allure of this riddle, Susan Goodman cites Anthony Storr's explanation for the sudden uprising of interest:
'There are no more amazing countries left on which we can feast our imagination,
and science has reduced our scope for fantasy. We love the magic element in fairy stories when we are young, and it seems we never really outgrow the need for it.' (Goodman 83)
She goes on to cite one woman whose passion for the puzzle and the illustrations within led her to an interpretation including a parallel to the Bible and an general allegory for religion itself.(83) Of course this was not Williams' intent, but because the book was so obscure, other interpretations arose, thereby establishing another level of interest than mere greed.
Because the book was in essence, a journey, most publicity ended after the jewel was found in 1982. However, when the gilded hare was found, reactions skyrocketed.
Some highlights included:
"To the relief-or perhaps the frustration- of thousands of disappointed seekers on both sides of the Atlantic, the jeweled 'Masquerade' rabbit has been found" (Borders 1).
"The author of 'Masquerade', who recently described his book and the mania it had engendered as 'romantic, a modern day holy grail', called the discovery of his treasure, 'gorgeous news' " (Borders 8).
On a deeper level, one commentator sought to characterize the search with an aspect of self-realization:
Nowadays, nobody is prepared to stand up and pit their wits against the world. Racing, football pools, all have an element of chance. With 'Masquerade', a reader must rely on his or her own skill alone?I think all of us look back at famous people and think that we, too, have the ability to do something. And I think that it is to this hidden, rather heroic, side of human nature that 'Masquerade' appeals. (Sharp 27)
In general, the book caused an amazing uproar, eliciting reaction from at least two continents. Perhaps the most telling assessment is that of the author himself who concluded a 1982 interview with a one-word evaluation: "?fabulous" (Anderson 1).
Useful sources included:
Anderson, Susan Heller. "Riddle-Ridden Hare Book is a Real Treasure." Chicago Tribune 13 Feb. 1980:1, 9.
Borders, William. "The British Treasure Hunt for Jeweled Rabbit is Over." The New York Times 15 Mar. 1982: A1+.
Dean, Paul. "He's Turning Great Britain Upside Down." The Los Angeles Times. 22 Oct. 1980:1,8.
Goodman, Susan. "The Legend of the Golden Hare." The New York Times Magazine. 15 Nov. 1981. 82-85, 114.
Sharp, David. "The Reward at the End of the Road." Publisher's Weekly 8 Aug. 1980. V218 p83.
"Spadework." The Economist. 22 Dec. 1979: 81-2.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)