Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Random questions with a few answers
Questions that have drawn me away from writing in the past 24 hours.
Everybody knows that Charles Dickens became a crack reporter of parliamentary doings, but what system of shorthand did he use? Gregg? It hadn't been invented yet. Pitman? Maybe. (Answer: Gurney.) Did he and other writers who began as writers of shorthand (e.g., Arnold Bennett) keep using it for short notes and things once they began writing novels? Is there a life cycle to academic book prices? I've been pricing two books I want to buy, one from 1992 and one from 1997, and they're both ridiculously expensive. Does this cycle sound right to you? Freshly published: full price or discounted at MLA; 5 years out, may be discounted and show up on Scholar's Bookshelf; 10-15 years out, priced like a Shakespeare First Folio; 20 years out, $2 on eBay and abebooks.com. Will I ever get to see the wronged wife of a cheating politician haul off and smack his face on live television, just once? Am I the only otherwise nonviolent person who hopes fervently to see this?