Friday, August 07, 2009

The Puzzle Factor

Lately I've been trying to find out more about a minor public figure's relationship with a major author.

  • Even Major Author spells MPF's name in various ways, and since it's a common name, it's not easy to distinguish MPF's information from that of others. Sure, Scott Fitzgerald always misspelled his friend's name as "Hemmingway," but we all knew who he was talking about. Think "Smith" and "Smithe" for the names, along with various spellings of the (common) first and middle names (like "John" and "Jon"), and then project that out into looking at census records.
  • Score! Obscure publication from a far-away state with information on MPF is actually in our library.
  • Double-score! An out-of-print regional history has a reference to MPF that links him/her to major author. I love you, Google Books.
  • Helpful transcriber, I appreciate the efforts you made, but in looking at the originals, I can see errors in the transcriptions. I guess that's why we always want to look at the manuscripts ourselves.
  • Definitive Biographer of major author devotes only one passing reference to MPF and then only to quote Famous Author as calling him/her a failure. All the documents I'm seeing show a pattern of success--not earth-shattering fame, but a respectable life. Why is MPF called a failure?

    Now I'm off to the library to pick up more books to keep trying to solve these mysteries. Maybe this is why I don't read murder mysteries. The puzzle factor in this kind of research is enough to keep me going for days.

    Ink said...

    Ooh, how delicious! And it could be a mystery, too, if you wrote it up! (Have you ever read Joanne Dobson's mysteries? They focus on literary puzzles.)

    Good luck, Holmes!

    undine said...

    Ink, I haven't read them, but now I might--thanks for the tip!