Primary Sources

Contemporaneous. Documented. Reliable.

verify7

Personal testimony in chronicles and memoirs has forever been the basis of recorded history. Not all of it is reliable, of course, so researchers should evaluate the source, the subject and the period before the facts. But at least accounts created during living memory have the virtue of immediacy so they are often not tainted or nuanced.

The real difficulty for scholars occurs with second-hand material which is often less well defined, and less reliable.

Take Columbus, for instance. And before you think this a characteristic segue into Ellmann getting the date wrong for Oscar Wilde’s lecture in Columbus, Ohio, it isn’t—although he did.

I mean that yesterday was Columbus Day here in the United States, and on the subject of unreliability I am reminded of Washington Irving’s supposed history of Christopher Columbus’ first visit to the Americas. For it was Irving who popularized the myth that Columbus set sail thinking he would fall off the edge of the world, when, in reality, the intrepid Italian knew all along about the earth’s curvature—he just miscalculated the circumference. Read Darin Hayton’s salutary article on Irving’s fabrication.

Almost as damaging as intentionally false history is intentionally genuine biography. Because all too often new biography is simply an echo chamber of old biography, in which successive viewpoints grow increasingly redundant and incoherent.

Such historiography may have been acceptable, or at least accepted, in the days when collective knowledge was indistinguishable from reflective guesswork. But in an age of digital access to archival newspapers, journals, records, and books, there is no longer any excuse for apocryphal scholarship, and nowhere is this discipline more acutely needed than in the study of Oscar Wilde.

The convention of confiscation

If biography were archaeology the Wildean trail would reveal a foundation of: “Sherard says,” with strata of “Harris recalls” or “Pearson posits,” beneath an uncured cement of “Ellmann p.94” overlaid with a media mosaic of “likelys”, “probablys” and “almost certainlys”. The result is not a surefooted way for the modern literary traveler: it is a crazy paving upon which the partially sighted have led the blind up the garden path.

The reason for this plea to tread carefully is that the road seems to be deteriorating. It is a phenomenon fueled largely by the ability of the Internet to propagate misinformation, which is then picked up by a latter-day fifth column receptive to careless talk. Unfortunately, among their number are professed scholars willing to pass off Chinese whispers as gospel. A recent example is the flawed Declaring His Genius, Oscar Wilde In North America, by Roy Morris, Jr., a pseudo account of Wilde’s 1882 lecture tour, which I reviewed here and for which I have compiled a list of errors and omissions. In this exercise I often found myself empathizing with a nameless Irish friend who, upon hearing tenuous assertions during lectures or walking tours, seems perpetually on the edge of yelling “Prove it!” — the question being: would it stand up in court?

Prove It!

genial-eccentric

There was an amusing defense of hearsay evidence at a recent event of the Oscar Wilde Festival in Galway when we visited an eccentric Irish country house where the young Edward Carson used to take his holidays.

Never mind the claim that Carson was born in the house (which he wasn’t) we were interested in the possibility that Oscar himself spent his boyish summer months there, too, picking daisies or some such. We waited anxiously for enlightenment as to the provenance of the suggestion until our genial host charmingly nonplussed the assembly of gotcha fact-finders by announcing: “I can’t prove that Oscar Wilde was here, but I can’t prove that God exists either…”

IMG_0145Such a defense may not be legally admissible anywhere except in the Santa Claus courtroom of The Miracle on 34th Street but it did neatly double as a warning against another venerable principle: that proof isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to an idea taking shape.

Of course, for an idea to take hold it needs to be reinforced, which may be why our genial host proceeded to capitalize on the non-Wildean connection to the eccentric house by saying that “if Oscar Wilde never came here, he missed a lot.”

This led me to two thoughts. First, that the words genial and eccentric were quickly becoming interchangeable, and second, how many other famous people could also lay claim to not having visited the house? An idea grew that there was only one thing worth celebrating more than visiting a manor such as this and that was not visiting it. If this is true then maybe outcasts do not always mourn and there is some reward in the Wilderness after all. It is a comforting thought, and not only to the soul of Oscar Wilde, because I miss a lot of events myself simply by not being invited.

Bone a fido

Speaking of historic homes, all this is reminiscent of a cliche associated with many American inns and private houses which asserts that ‘George Washington Slept Here.” No one is fooled by that either: the American public has long since recognized that the evidence for such presidential sleepovers is usually flimsy at best or non-existent at worst. Such pragmatism might have been schooled by the comedy George Washington Slept Here by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. In the 1940 play (and 1942 film starring Jack Benny) the characters struggle to substantiate the claim until the family dog unearths a letter on the property actually written by George Washington, thus saving the day and restoring the value of the house. The lesson of the story is that bona fide history needs to be based on digging up primary sources, and the fictional nose for Washington evidence is a good example for nonfiction hounds.

So what is a primary source?

Research used to mean microfilm reels, dusty corridors, and the one library a thousand miles away which happened to have book you want. Fortunately, nowadays dig means digital.

The newspaper clippings at the top of this article and below that report Wilde’s visit to Leavenworth, Kansas, (yes, Ellmann also got that date wrong too), are good examples of primary sources recovered from digital research:

thekansascitystarkansascitymissouri21april188

These accounts were written by correspondents who met Wilde, attended his lecture, or interviewed him at his hotel, and whose reports appeared in the local newspaper at the time. As such, they fulfill the main criteria of a primary source: that of a published, believable, first-hand account.

These criteria provide us with a working definition [1] as follows:

A primary source is the contemporaneous, documented, and reliable viewpoint of an individual participant or observer usually in the form of:

—Newspapers, periodicals and other published materials reporting actual events, interviews, etc., by participants or observers.
—Journals, speeches, letters, memoranda, manuscripts, diaries and other papers in which individuals describe events in which they were participants or observers.
—Records of organizations. The minutes, reports, correspondence, etc. of an organization or agency.
—Primary accounts contained in memoir, biography and autobiography although these may be less reliable if they are written well after the event and distorted by personal agenda, dimming memory or the revised perspective that may come with hindsight.
—Period photographs.

I think, therefore I consult Descartes

One’s first duty is to think, and who better to turn to for advice on that subject than that self-evident thinker Descartes, for he is attributed with coining the Latin expression de omnibus dubitandum — be suspicious of everything, doubt everything.

Let us apply these principles to the bookends of Oscar Wilde lecture tour in America.

Everyone said (and by everyone I mean anyone who has recorded the visit to America) that Wilde’s final lecture  of the tour took place in October 1882 at St. John in New Brunswick, Canada. However, access to the primary source of newspaper archives now shows that Wilde lectured again at Yorkville, New York in late November.

Similarly, everyone said (and this time I do mean everyone) that Oscar Wilde told a Customs officer he had nothing to declare but his genius when arriving at New York. The truth is that there is no primary source evidence to corroborate Wilde’s remark, a thesis I first put forth in 2002 and which is updated here. Indeed, returning to the subject of bona fides I have a bone to pick with Martin Fido for repeating the odious St. John Ervine’s shaggy dog tale which invented an equally spurious reply supposedly made by the Customs officer.

One of the first Wilde biographers to take a skeptical approach was Rupert Croft-Cooke who devoted the first chapter of his The Unrecorded Life of Oscar Wilde (D. McKay Co., 1972) to unravelling what he termed “fables” produced by “a rigid crocodile” of biographers, whom he denounced variously as clumsy, pompous, and humorless eccentrics, mountebanks and honest fools.

Among the Wilde stories Croft-Cooke takes pains to debunk are:

  • that Wilde had syphilis (shamelessly expanded in the film “Wilde”)
  • that Wilde wrote Teleny (now generally accepted that he did not)
  • the ‘claptrap’ of the blue china story
  • that Ross was his first male lover
  • Pearson’s assertion that there was a painter named Basil Ward
  • Wilde’s own story about Queensberry and the prize-fighter
  • the animosity with Brookfield
  • the scenes of glee and dancing outside court after Wilde’s conviction
  • the general exodus of gay men from London after Wilde’s conviction
  • Wilde’s pugilistic tendencies at college

unrecorded

Following Croft-Cooke, perhaps more notably, and certainly more focused, was the Wildean scholar Horst Schroeder whose Additions and Corrections to Richard Ellmann’s Oscar Wilde is now well known. It was expanded in 2002 and remains essential to arresting errors from the major sourcebook.

The theme of doubting biography continued when Merlin Holland provided the article that begins the The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde, (Cambridge University Press, 1997) entitled “Biography and the art of lying.” In it Merlin accepts that early biographers lacked the tools and lived in an era when Wilde’s scandal and shame were still rife. But he also alludes to their “meat-cleaver” approach to the post-mortem study of his grandfather’s legacy in search of skeletons in the closet. He calls into question the sensationalism of trying to establish Wilde’s first homosexual encounter, and the conveniently transformed stories behind Wilde’s moment when “something clutched my heart like ice”. But as ever Merlin is even-handed, and along with being wary of the seductive use of footnotes, he concludes that Wilde’s life was elusive and perhaps he would have wanted it that way, a view that deserves to be the final word on speculative biography.

If that proves so, it would leave the field of study to the empiricists.

Three years ago I noted in my review of the conference: Who Owns The Legacy of Oscar Wilde? that Jason Boyd from the Department of English at University of Toronto, was compiling a genealogy of the written discourse on Oscar Wilde. In it he proposed to publish an online database to be encoded – or descriptively “marked-up” – with the aim of reversing the myth-making in Wilde biography up to 1945. Despite grants from the Faculty of Arts New Initiatives programme and the Humanities Research Council of Canada, results are still awaited. You will appreciate, however, that three and a half years is not a very long time in academic publishing.

Another book which makes a forensic analysis of Wilde is Ashley Robins’ Oscar Wilde — The Great Drama of His Life: How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality (Apollo Books, 2012) in which the author combines a background in medicine and psychiatry with primary sources of prison, government and medical reports to provide new insights into the effects of Wilde’s imprisonment, marriage and health.

More recently, Geoff Dibb has given us Oscar Wilde – a Vagabond with a Mission (Oscar Wilde Society, 2013), which impressively draws upon 25 years of original research into letters, memoirs, biographies, previously unpublished information and thousands of contemporary newspaper accounts, to bring us the first definitive study and painstaking chronology of Wilde’s UK and Ireland lecture tours. For more on Geoff’s research visit the blog of the British Newspaper Archive.

Even more recently still, as I reported in this article last month, Michael Seeney‘s new book From Bow Street to the Ritz: Oscar Wilde’s Theatrical Career from 1895 to 1908 (Rivendale Press (2015) also employs much online research to uncover hitherto unknown productions of Wilde’s plays.

For my part, my entire documentary web site Oscar Wilde In America is built on the principle of primary sources, as is my study Oscar Wilde On Dress which by definition required original research because it features a hitherto unknown essay by Wilde and a journey into uncharted territory, that of Wilde’s relationship with dress.

Oscar Wilde In America

Pride and permanence

Why does accuracy matter?

Curiously, as important as the outward presentation of correctness is for future generations, I find an equally compelling reason for integrity to be found within. I conclude with two stories to illustrate what I mean.

Last month I visited a UK National Trust house and was met by a guide who described the style of the building as William and Mary. No doubt it was. Probably, it still is. But my partially educated eye had begun to mistake it for Italianate. So I innocently (and genuinely) sought some clarification as to the architectural features which identified the style. But the guide, now shifting uncomfortably, confessed, “I wish you hadn’t asked me that,” admitting that the description she had given, (and had repeated two or three times), was simply the script she had to say.

The style of the house had triumphed over the substance of the guide.

Now, I have no wish to denigrate the laudable efforts of a volunteer, but the lesson should be clear: if you put yourself forward as a spokesperson you should be able to stand by your assertions, at least to the point of answering the most basic questions. We all start by borrowing and learning but if one gives a talk three times a week for five years, then there has been plenty of time to take some interest, not to say pride, in what you represent, and do some research.

So much for the spoken word. As for the world of print publishing correctness perhaps matters even more because the wages of sin is permanence.

[Incidentally, this is why Wikipedia with 200 million eyes continually editing it will eventually be more valuable than the Encyclopedia Brittanica, where to be wrong once was to be wrong forever.]

This lesson was nicely phrased in Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues by the semi-autobiographical army recruit Eugene Jerome, who in the play has cause to regret that his colleagues discover the idle thoughts he has transcribed into his diary; he reflects:

I learnt a very important lesson that night: people believe whatever they read. Something magical happens once it’s put down on paper. They figure no one would go to the trouble of writing it down if it wasn’t the truth. Responsibility was my new watchword.

So this article is a plea for that watchword, because, fellow scholar, as Eugene Jerome also concluded: “once you start compromising your thoughts you’re a candidate for mediocrity”.

© John Cooper


Primary Resources

In the article I rightly advocated suspicion about online propagation; however, the Internet is paradoxically the most immediate place to find accuracy, if you know where to look. Here are a some selected web site where you can find primary source information:

Google Books
[for full access and archival books click on Search Tools/Any Books and select Free Google Books]

Google Newspapers

Newspapers.com

The British Newspaper Archive

Library of Congress Newspapers

Library of Congress Federal Writers’ Project

Internet Archive

Quote Investigator

Oscar Wilde In America

New York Public Library Digital Collections

British Library Online Gallery

Digital Public Library of America


[1] The definition of a Primary Sources used in this article is based on guides prepared by The University of Central Oklahoma and The University of California Berkeley Library.

Published by

John Cooper

John Cooper is a researcher, author, blogger and documentary historian. As a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America, he has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde, having lectured on Wilde, and contributing to TV, film, and academic journals including The Wildean and Oscholars. Online he is the designer, author and editor of this noncommercial archive Oscar Wilde in America, blogger, and moderator of the Oscar Wilde Internet discussion groups at Yahoo and Google. For the last 14 years he has specialized in new and unique research into Oscar Wilde in New York, where he conducts guided walking tours based on the visits of Oscar Wilde. In 2012 John rediscovered Oscar Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his recent book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

17 thoughts on “Primary Sources”

  1. Great job, John, it’s a relief and a challenge to turn to you after peeping at the “news.” You have some great humor and/or wit in this essay, too. Bless you.

    Mark Twain has a couple of lines: “I know this is true because I read it in the newspaper,” and: “I know this is true because the man who told it to me told me it is true.”

    A good example of much that you are saying is the story of what happened at the Bohemian Club repeatedly endlessly and erroneously in book after book. In a primary source, Dan O’Connell, who was there (One of the founders of the Bohemian Club) gives an entirely different and more interesting story.

    My mother, a Kirwan, said we are related to Carson who married a Kirwan. She also said we were related to Brendan Behan. Shall I shoot myself?

    “Thanks for your excellent writing” as a young punk journalist at U. C. Berkeley said to me this week when he called up to tell me he had just discovered my writing “ten minutes ago” and was going to plagiarize it and would I mind giving him the source of one quote! I was happy, or sad, to tell him that I throw the alumni journal in the garbage each month and he was astonished to hear from me that “There is no such thing as free speech.”

    Great job, Mr. Cooper. As usual I will save the email and read it again a couple of times.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Garland
    West Coast

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with much of what you say. Just a few observations…(I am on holiday so have no books to refer to.)
    Interesting relevant articles in The Guardian on the day after Oscar’s birthday on Ted Hughes biography errors and Jane Smiley on history & historical fiction.
    Thank you for your kind words about ‘Oscar Wilde A Vagabond with a Mission’ as I did endeavour to apply the rigorous standards you champion (where I could.)
    The root of your concern lies with the Oscar Wilde tour of Galway at the recent festival: the guide, in lieu of fact, kept introducing Wildean information with formulae of the form: ‘we have no evidence that he was ever (at some Galway landmark) but if he ever had been it is almost certain that he would have seen yadda yadda yadda…’ This was both fatuous and hilarious by repetition. However, there is a broader issue here about what is acceptable as evidence in biography. For a Galway example: we know the Wildes arrived on the train at Galway en route to Moytura Lodge on the north bank of Lough Corrib. They would complete their journeys on the steamer from Galway to Moytura. Surely (the weasel word), some times (more weasels), they will have arrived late or too tired to take the steamer immediately and so will have stayed in the hotel overnight. It must be acceptable to say that the family, Oscar among them, will have known Galway reasonably well due to such visits?
    After the Festival I had a day driving around Lough Corrib. My first stop was a burial mound probably half a mile from Moytura; I didn’t try to visit Moytura but my next stop was the gatehouse of Ashford Castle, a short distance west of Moytura and then I stopped in Cong where I bought a reprint of Sir William Wilde’s book on Lough Corrib, its environs, history, antiquities, etc. The burial mound is so close to Moytura and of great interest to William Wilde that he must have taken Oscar there (surely, certainly?) We have photographs of Oscar at Ashford Castle so he certainly was there, but is this not just indicative of a wider social milieu which the Wildes were part of and, so, they would have (surely, certainly?) visited many families in the area, including Carson’s relatives at the eccentric house you mention. Cong has a marvellous ruined abbey in a parkland setting, so as with the burial mound, William Wilde will have taken Oscar there (surely, certainly?)
    The point of all this is that, for many such activities there will be little to no evidence, yet is the biographer unable to use them? Or is it purely the need for acceptable formulations? I feel the minor examples I have mentioned may be relevant to a biographer and could be used justifiably as cultural background on Oscar. Does a biographer need several independent witnesses before these can be used? Or are those weasel words: surely, probably, almost certainly the (acceptable) ones we have to use?
    Geoff Dibb
    Paleohora, Crete
    October 2015

    Like

    1. Dear Mr Dibb and I hope John gets this too. I enjoyed reading your response to John and though I am not a specialist like you two guys I felt Oscar must know Galway. I have read some of Sir William’s work.
      But this gives me a chance to share something with you two gentlemen. I’ve been reading what I consider a wonderful and sensitive biography of Robert Louis Stevenson (He and Wilde don’t really mention each other though they must have read/heard of one another) by James Pope Hennessy which in some ways is the best bio of RLS I’ve come across but what a blooper I find at one point. He tells us that Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, who would later on become Stevenson’s one and only wife, joined her first husband in San Francisco via the Panama Canal – about forty years before it was built – and this is not a first edition! Otherwise a fine book though Pope-Hennessy does occasionally make statements for which he offers absolutely no proof or evidence. Poor man was violently murdered at the end of his life, anyway, while, apparently, “feasting with panthers”! RIP

      I enjoy reading you real scholars.

      Peter Garland
      http://ralef.com/Hait

      Like

    2. Good points, Geoff. Will get to them in turn.

      But first an observation, as one of the reason for my article was to help change the way our generation thinks about information. For instance, because of digital versions, your being online but having no books to refer to may one day become a non-sequitur.

      I hope not because, like you, I like to have print books.

      But even without owning ebooks it is possible to search them online. I do this all the time with Oscar Wilde’s letters, Ellmann, &c., as it is quicker than referring to indexes and leafing through pages. This is possible, because even if a book has only limited access online, the whole book is scanned and snippets of required information can be retrieved by searching.

      As for books in the public domain, almost all of these are online. As an example, here is Sir William Wilde’s book that you picked up in Cong, from which I see (using the search function at right not top) there are a couple of dozen references to Galway.

      https://archive.org/details/loughcorribitssh00wild

      Like

      1. I agree wholeheartedly about the Internet and books on it. The archive you referred to is an amazing resource let alone other sites. BTW the archive also contains lots of live music.
        I also carry a kindle on holiday and that can hold any number of books which, as you say, are searchable.
        But, yes, there’s nothing like a real book…
        On biography more generally, every biographer has a ‘line’ and they are not uninvolved or God-like in their impartiality. Everyone is biassed which, as a minimum, will affect content and descriptions- see the Ted Hughes lunch argument!

        Like

      2. If I may pop in again between you guys like a baby between his parents – I continue to read, with trepidation, the James Pope-Hennessy bio of RLS. Late last night he was suddenly assuring me that the Osbourne family (RLS’s wife’s, her children by first hubbie) had in fact psychologically murdered RLS in Samoa – I mean Hennessy suddenly throws this in out of the blue. It seems to be some recurring need he has to be extremely aggressive, as one might have a tic. He usually follows this up by the utmost caressing of his erstwhile victim. Always the disconcerting statements are made with no evidence offered. I am less and less surprised that he came to an end rather like that of Christopher Marlowe. Wilde was lecturing in Bournemouth when RLS was there in the house Papa Thomas Stevenson had given them, he and Fanny. Perhaps if the latter was more mobile he might have attended or was he a bit leery of the other peacock? Always good to read you – an intellectual in this world of technocrats and mundane rats. Lets see what else you have to say. Peter Garland

        Like

      3. I really love to read Sir William. I make the point in one of my articles about Oscar Wilde that he was competing with a couple of very high-achieving parents. Funny how his career echoes his father’s, even including the notoriety of a trial for sex-related “crime”. I was very happy also in my “Is Oscar Irish?” – published by Irish America Magazine in NY to have found that yes he was descended on his father’s side from a couple of very ancient Irish families in Galway and that his father spoke Gaelic. The publication of that article in NY balanced the publication in the same periodical, years earlier, of my “Who Wrote ‘Danny Boy?'” in which I inform my mostly Irish-American audience that the lyrics to that archetypically Irish song were written by an Englishman, Mr. Frederick Weatherley, a professor at Oxford who became King’s Counsel. (The tune, “Londonderry Air,” was “borrowed” from an Irish peasant at a fair.) Editor Patty Harty said her readers had never been the same after that revelation. Now, if I could just get her to publish “Some Ghosts of Blarney Castle.” All the best. Again, I am so appreciative of you guys in my intellect-starved environment here – the product of the Free Speech Movement – as if there was such a thing as free speech – to have someone I respect to write to. Peter Garland

        Like

    3. While my comparison was between history and the ostensible history of biography, thanks for the reference to Jane Smiley’s piece for she brings the question of veracity in historical fiction.

      I am far more relaxed about accuracy in historical fiction, because as a genre there is often what I have termed “a viewer or reader complicity” in the conceit of the fiction. I cited several examples of varying accuracy in Oscar Wilde historical fiction on previously this blog here:

      https://oscarwildeinamerica.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/critics-and-artists-at-the-rosenbach/

      I shall reblog this post for those who haven’t followed this thread.

      Like

  3. Hello Peter as well!
    A couple of points arising from your posts: I think Wilde was pretty aware of RLS’s writing and commented on it. Also DrJ&MrH is often quoted as a source for The Picture of Dorian Gray.
    On a general point you raise: complete falsehood – I am not a supporter!? Of course everyone makes mistakes but deliberate falsehoods to support a line to take cannot be allowed in biography. Oscar might not support that argument!
    Best wishes,
    Geoff

    Like

    1. Hi, Geoff, thanks for writing! Yes – who knows about Oscar. My great teacher, Robert Howard of the University of San Francisco (RIP – not the university but Robert) not too long before his untimely death (encephalitis) told me that one weekend he had re-read “The Importance” and then he alarmed me with “I didn’t like it.” Robert, a very wholesome person, liked healthy values, so I am reading Wilde with an eye to getting a full insight into Robert’s dislike for the play. What values was Wilde promoting therein that Robert did not care for? In the meantime, of course, I am learning much of the work of OW, including his poetry, which I suspect is generally underrated. May I ask, what is your interest in OW, what has your OW career been? All the best, Peter Garland West Coast

      Like

      1. Hello Peter,
        It all started by hearing a Wilde quote in my teens. More recently I have published a book about Wilde’s lecture tours of the UK & Ireland: ‘Oscar Wilde – A Vagabond with a Mission’. Decades of research went into it.
        I’m generally fascinated by him and am writing something on The Portrait of Mr WH as well as researching Wilde’s links with radical politics and the supernatural. Keeps me occupied!
        Your colleagues distaste of Earnest may have been Wilde’s paradoxical lack of ernestness? !
        Best wishes
        Geoff

        Like

      2. Yes, Geoff, I think you’ve hit the nail right on the head. I will read your book before very long. I was deeply ensconced in Wilde’s poetry there for a while. One poem contained so many classical references – all of which I plan to look up on Wiki – that I consider it a classical education! I think it’s terrific what you’ve done – a real detective work and I am glad to have you to write to! Thanks again for writing. I’ve heard from the U. S. Naval Institute at Annapolis this morning to whom I sent a book proposal and they did not outright reject it – maybe I’ll join you guys on the book list one of these days.

        Your current research sounds interesting. You and John come up with original approaches. Let’s see “Mr WH” seems like I should know who “WH” is but it’s not clicking.

        Now – all of us – back to Oscar – (and family) – or whomever!

        Peter

        Like

      3. Geoff. Could I have your email? garland1945@yahoo.com. Don’t worry, I won’t write that often. I don’t belong to Facebook nor do I twitter or whathave you! I was going to send the following to both you and John but could not so I copy it here for you. Hope you are having a good day. Lovely here in the Bay Area, weekend coming.Dear John, I’d like this to go to Geoff Dibb also but I don’t seem to have his email. I’ll copy it and send.

        This is in line with our standards.

        I’ve been studying a book, The Cradle King, a bio of King James I of England, as part of a project to write an article about the writing of the King James Bible.

        This bio is written by a Prof. Stewart at Columbia U in New York City who has previously published bios of Sir Philip Sidney and Francisco Bacon. The blurbs on the dust jacket praise the book to the sky and it has fairly high ratings on Amazon.

        However, as I was reading it I thought, ‘This is really snobbish. He quotes in toto James’s sonnet on the death of his Chancellor Maitland and I am able to figure out that it references Alexander the Great’s preference to have been celebrated by Homer rather than to have won all his victories and other classical figures (Minerva….) but I can’t help but think that much of his audience won’t have a clue.

        Then I am told that James I in a famous instruction to his son Henry instructed him to, Godlike, punish those who do good. This can’t be right! Sure enough I find James’s document on-line and confirm that this is a huge boo-boo in the middle of Stewart’s book. It seems evil.

        On the following page Stewart begins a sentence with the word “Who” where “Whom” would be correct, I believe.

        There is a photo of Stewart. He looks more like a football player than an author. I blasted him on Amazon Comments. I hope he hears about it. Such shoddy work by how many hands – author, editor, proofreader…. and then all this adulation from a mutual admiration society. Truly these are perilous times through which we tread.

        How are you doing?

        Peter G

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s