Jürgen Sarnowsky: Rezension von: Maurizio Burlamacchi: Nobility, Honour and Glory. A brief military History of the Order of Malta, Florenz: Leo S. Olschki 2013, in: sehepunkte 14 (2014), Nr. 12 [15.12.2014], URL: http://www.sehepunkte.de/2014/12/24840.html

Von Maurizio Burlamacchi

Thank you so much for publishing a 'Rezension' of my book, which I consider an honour! As long as there is talk about it, good enough, but for the fact that Mr Jürgen Sarnowsky, the Reviewer, is blaming my Editor Olschki for publishing this time a work of poor quality.

The object of Mr Sarnowsky's criticism are, in this case, 57 pages of text of my booklet. The purpose and limits of this booklet are very clearly written in it's preface, quoted at length by Sarnowsky himself at the beginning of his review, and ignored completely thereafter.

Not having kept in mind the purpose and size of the work, the review necessarily went off the rails and became a matter of Censorship, a useless fault hunt.

In fact the Recensionist proceeds with finding faults in my text, which faults he lists on 16 notes, lacking the source of his reviewed versions. Not considering that almost all of the contested points, is information which I took from other Authors, part of the bibliography of the Order of Malta. Sarnowsky, in almost every case, contests statements made by other Scholars like himself. His word against theirs; who is right, who is wrong? I get the blame!

None of the 16 faults listed by the Recensionist are significant enough to alter the course of history in my booklet. Who but a fussy Professor would care if a Turcopolier should be called Turcopoler, or if such Turcopoler was a Noble Englishman or a Commoner from a different part of today's EC? Far more of interest to the average Reader, for whom the book is written, is probably the large Ape on the Christian side, first to board successfully an enemy Turkish Galley in a naval battle!

Not a single small merit is given to my work by Sarnowsky, not even the fact that it is so short. Not a word is spent for the Translator, a British personality at the British Institute of Florence. Not a word on the beautiful illustrations in the volume, contemporary of the siege of Rhodes of 1480, supplied by the Bibliothèque nationale de France; or the portraits of the Sultans by Gentile Bellini and by Titian, also in the book. Each of these illustrations has an extensive analysis, printed on the full opposite page like a parallel text, explaining the military aspects as seen in the picture. These Illustrations with their comment, were the subject chosen by a speaker at the presentation of the book.

In order to please Mr.Sarnowsky, my 57 pages should have been the boring academic text he is evidently used to. It seems to me that what the Order of Malta lacks, in the way of books, are simple non religious works telling the people about the Order, otherwise practically unknown to most people. Such simple books would fill a gap and be useful to the Order the world over, if translated into many languages.

About the Order of Malta today, with the inclusion 'Einschluss' of Protestant Associations, Sarnowsky thinks that I should have given more space to the matter (what a bore..), and dealt with it less from a Catholic perspective.

Mr Sarnowsky's English must have let him down if he understood that I had deliberately decided not to waste much of my time in writing this book 'Der Author hat sich dann offensichtlish auch selbst bemüht, für sein Buch nicht zu viel Zeit zu verschwenden'.. talk through the top of his hat! I did not write this, nor anything similar. I wrote that the Reader, not the Writer, can hopefully get an idea of the Order of Malta, without wasting too much time, by reading this booklet. As a matter of fact, it took me four years of my spare time to complete the work.

Mr Sarnowsky branding my work with sloppiness on the base of the limited number of items in it's bibliography, which he counted up, seems like a quick, easy and superficial way out of a more attentive analysis of the spirit of the work, and if carried out sufficiently well for it's declared purpose. The salient points of many worthy Authours are reported or quoted in the Magazine of the Order, of which I have at home no less than 50 issues dating back to 1940-50. Had I itemized all of those Author's names, the count could have been tedious.

Sarnowsky also wrote that I had started out on this work without any intention of producing a work of quality: 'Ohne eine lange Literaturliste zur Messlatte für die Qualität eines Buches machen zu wollen'.

Given, as Mr Sarnowsky says, that my book would be better had it never been printed, his review as well, with all it's erudition, would gain a lot had it never been written, nor ever published by sehepunkte.

Either Olschki made a mistake in publishing a poor quality book, or sehepunkte (why not?) made a mistake in publishing a misleading review, totally out of place, balance and proportion. My apoligies go to Olschki, along with my gratitude for accepting and publishing my booklet, regardless of it's paucity, now so brightly brought to light.

Anmerkung der Redaktion:
Jürgen Sarnowsky hat auf eine Replik verzichtet.