In a recent phone conversation with Elizabeth Fletcher, widow of my predecessor as editor, John Fletcher, she mentioned in passing that she no longer reads my editorials because all I do is castigate myself for the lateness of the issue in hand. So rather than flagellate myself again by dwelling on the fact that this issue is also very late, I will, masochist that I am, return to scarifying myself for misprints in the previous issue, something I have not done for some time.
While most of the errors, which I will list at the end of this editorial, were of no great moment, one was: For some reason I at one point referred to the compiler of A dictionary of Australian underworld slang as Gary Grimes instead of Gary Simes, even though, on checking, I found that I had the correct name throughout the rest of my paper. This was all the more distressing to me as Gary Simes has been an acquaintance of mine for some years. I can only think that I must have been listening to a certain opera from Britain/Britten as I was typing that bit of my paper.
One reader felt unhappy about my using the construction “it has been being sold” on p.62 in respect of the current price of copies of the first edition of Morris’s Austral English, and would have preferred simply “has been sold”. I agree that it might sound stylistically awkward to some, but, linguistic pedant that I am, I’ll stick with my perfect passive continuous verb form as indicating “and it may go on being sold at that price”. I grant that the genius of our English language – I know offhand of no other language that can do this – would allow me to have said “it has been selling for around $200”, and that might indeed have sounded better.
I had hoped that the rest of my paper on collecting books on Australian English would fit into this December issue, as I prefer all parts of serial articles to appear in the same year, but, as it turns out, it has to run over three issues, both because of its length and to make possible the publishing of contributions by others who have been waiting quite some time to see them in print.
Our President Dr Neil Radford’s article on G.S. Dodman’s scarce book is a reminder that Australiana can be hidden away in a book whose title does not betray that it is there, although in this case it is rather pseudo-Australiana.
It is pleasing to have some reviews again, especially the three expertly written reviews in this issue: by Jürgen Wegner, Colin Steele and Michael O’Brien. While Jürgen and Colin have been quite prolific contributors to Biblionews, Michael is a newcomer to the reviews section, and I welcome him heartily and look forward to more contributions from his pen and/or keyboard.
Jürgen, who has been contributing since long before I ever joined the Society, has been for just as long a librarian in Sydney University’s Fisher Library. However, despite this I only had the privilege of meeting him earlier this year when I traipsed across to Fisher with a few cartons of books and journals I wanted to donate as a consequence of the great clear-out of my room adverted to in my previous editorial. I discovered then – though I should have realised it already from his dozens of Biblionews articles over the years – that he is a prolific book collector himself over a very wide variety of fields. It goes without saying that I sent him away with a few armfuls of books for his own personal collection, including books from the room of the anonymous colleague mentioned in the September editorial. I expect a few more articles as a result.