Sunday, April 6, 2008
Homer nods . . . thrice
You'd think the New York Times Book Review, of all media, would go over its writers' copy with a comb so fine-toothed that a microsized apostrophe couldn't sneak through. But in today's issue Joe Queenan, in an otherwise funny piece on those fey book-club quizzes that anchor the endpapers of so many paperback reissues, made not one but three bloopers:
He wrote Picture of Dorian Grey instead of the correct "Gray."
He rendered Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice as "Bennett."
And he spelled Stendhal "Stendahl."
I was just waiting for him to commit the odious "Ghandi" instead of Gandhi, but he ran out of space.
Or possibly Queenan was having his own private joke. "Every so often, a question [in those endpaper quizzes] seems to have been included merely to see if readers are still awake," he writes.
Maybe those misspellings were jokingly intended to jar old copy editors out of our somnolence. But I don't think so. Our craft is going down the tubes everywhere, maybe even at The Times.