Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Name Game

I enjoyed reading It Happened On Broadway: An Oral History Of The Great White Way, even though oral histories are a form a cheating--I'd rather the authors do the full research and write a real book rather than just edit what others say.

But, as I've wondered before, what has happened to editing?  Okay, you've interviewed a bunch of people.  And someone typed up transcripts.  That's not the end of it.  Make sure it's spelled right.  This is an insider book, people will know.

For instance, early on we get a couple mentions of critic "Alexander Wolcott." I believe this is supposed to be Alexander Woollcott.

Later, more than once, we see the name of composer "Aaron Copeland." I'm pretty sure they're referring to Aaron Copland.

By the way, both these names are spelled wrong in the index as well.

But the weirdest of all is the mention of the great Russian opera singer "Shlapin." I have to assume they're referring to Feodor Chaliapin.  But how could anyone make such a mistake in the first place?  When a transcriber hears an unfamiliar name--even if she doesn't want to look it up, and decides to spell it phonetically--the least she can do is make a notation about it so someone will catch it later.  And I don't mean the reader.

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