Saturday, March 12, 2005


World's Biggest Procrastinator Gets Around To Dying

Over in the Telegraph, Mark Sanderson reports on a rather tardy author:

Oxford University Press commissioned I. A. Shapiro to edit the letters of John Donne in 1930. The Shakespeare scholar was still working on the project when he died, aged 99, on March 14 last year. Twelve months later, OUP have still to appoint his successor.

To put this in perspective: Shapiro spent 74 years editing the letters of a man who died at the age of 59. When he started his project, Herbert Hoover was president, Krazy Kat ran in the daily papers, the last silent pictures were being finished off, and the Hindenburg had not yet been built.

Mr. Shapiro's career suggests one heretofore unrealized authorial strategy. If you have any disagreements with editors over deadlines, then.... outlive them.

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