A book to mark the LRB’s 40th anniversary, compiled by Sam Kinchin-Smith, is published today by Faber. More scrapbook than festschrift, it traces an incomplete history of the paper through reproductions of letters, drawings, postcards, fieldnotes, typescripts and covers from the last four decades, introduced and contextualised by writers, editors and designers from the LRB’s past and present. To keep the book under two kilos, we could only include a couple of pages from most of the manuscripts. But there’s no weight limit online, so here are all 29 pages of Oliver Sacks’s typescript for ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’.
I recently heard a couple of stories about health and safety suggestions made by children’s book editors. They are often along the lines of ‘we’re concerned that the character is in danger here,’ but breast-feeding was also a no-no in a book for eight to twelve-year-olds. The most famous editor as moral policeman is Thomas Bowdler, who in 1818 produced his Family Shakspeare [sic]. He was from a long line of Shakespeare sanitisers. A copy of the Second Folio now in the Folger Library in Washington preserves the often frustrated expurgatory efforts of William Sankey (signing himself Guillermo Sanchez), a 17th-century English Jesuit; the edition came from the English College in Valladolid. The pages are covered with Sankey’s redactions. What I like best about the book is the total absence of Measure for Measure. I wonder how much of the play he crossed out before giving up and ripping the whole thing out.
It’s strange to find the New York Times Book Reviewdevoting three full pages to yet another round of the Gordon Lish/Raymond Carver spat, previously addressed (at length) in, for example, The New Yorker, Slate and the New York Times’s own Sunday magazine. Stranger still to see it come down so heavily against Lish, one of the more accomplished editors of the 20th century. The byline is also odd: Stephen King – who was once praised (by the same publication) for his masterful reworking of the 'evil-car motif'. Really? I don’t mean to pick on King.