Previously I've run across the rejection letter for The Diary of Anne Frank that said, "The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling that would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level" and the one that said John Le Carre had no future, but this one was new to me (courtesy of The Daily Telegraph website):
"First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale?
"While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?"
--Publisher Peter J Bentley, rejecting Moby Dick.
Anybody who has had dealings with Hollywood producers will find these comments have a familiar ring.
Hmm, how might it have ended up if Melville had taken Bentley's advice...
MOBY-DORIS; or, The Voluptuous Maiden
"Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering voluptuous maiden; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee.” "
I guess some of it could stay the same: "“Squeeze! Squeeze! Squeeze! all the morning long; I squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came over me..."
No, just as well he didn't listen.