Stanford Music Library, probably 1989 or 1990. I asked Leonard Ratner how he was doing. “I feel like I’m slapping at mosquitoes.” How so? “Preparing the final manuscript of my Romantic Musicbook.” OHH. Even then, before I’d written any books myself, I understood: verifying every last quotation, every last citation, every last page number, every last publisher and date…oh, gracious. Ratner is such a thick-context, musically and historically informed thinker that doing that kind of thing for his books must have been a nightmare. Of course, one has no choice.
So just guess what I’m doing now. Turns out Ferdynand Hoesick’s multivolume biography of Chopin came out in two very different editions. Have to make sure I cite the right one, the one which had the FULL version of that Antoni Szulc review of a Chopin Ballade from 1842. Turns out it took awhile to find that HarrowGate Press is located in Perrysburg, Ohio. Better to quote hard copy publications, when possible, than electronic versions of sources because URLs can be different, and useless—particular to a certain service to which your institution subscribes, for example, but useless to others. Every chapter, every source, every comment. See, I’m going over the copyedited manuscript which I received from the publisher, worked over to a fare-thee-well by a superb copyeditor. (I was going to use her name, but she may prefer anonymity.)
So I’m going mad, chasing up minutiae that I really thought I’d taken care of already. But I have to say how wonderful it is to have crackerjack people like those at Oxford University Press, and those contracted with them. I admit to being exasperated—as I was with my dissertation advisor, long ago, and to whom I owe limitless gratitude—but I know how much the book will benefit from this process.
Back to it. (Sigh) But I feel like I’m swatting at an infinite number of mosquitoes…