Thursday, March 19, 2009

The finger

And the funny thing is that really in every other respect it is an extremely favorable review!

At the TLS, Anthony Kenny on Leslie Mitchell's biography of Maurice Bowra:
One would like to know more about the history of this book. Some of its content is sourced to interviews with Bowra himself before his death. Since then there has been exhaustive archival investigation and personal interviewing, some of it conducted by research assistants about whom it would be interesting to learn more. Though the book has been in preparation for several decades, it still appears under-cooked. Superfluous material should have been evaporated, repetitions should have been eliminated, some anecdotes should have been omitted and others polished. The copy-editing has left proper names misspelt, irregular punctuation and occasional mistranslations. Footnotes, instead of being printed as such, are relegated to the end of the volume. If this regrettable practice is to be followed, it should at least be possible for a reader to be clear where a note is to be attached: each page of notes should be headed “Notes to pp. 100–102” or at least “Notes to Chapter Four”. Here, all we have are pages after pages of footnote numbers headed “Endnotes”. Throughout, the reader has to keep a finger firmly inserted into the book’s latter pages.

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