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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Five, six -- who's counting?

So I’m reading along in my book of the moment -- Sisters in Law, Linda Hirshman’s interesting joint biography of Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first two women to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. I get to Chapter 4, wherein Hirshman describes Ginsburg’s pioneering work as a legal advocate for women’s rights. And I read this: “Mozart had, by many accounts, five operatic masterpieces. Jane Austen’s reputation rests on five novels. . . . Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued in five great Supreme Court victories.” Umm. . . what? I’ll leave it to the Mozart scholars to argue over whether Idomeneo or La Clemenza di Tito deserves to be bracketed with the Big Five. But you wouldn’t catch too many Austen scholars disagreeing that Austen’s reputation rests on six novels.* I guess Hirshman isn’t a Northanger Abbey fan. * Nor, I must point out, is this detail an arcane factoid that only the most hardened Janeite could be expected to know. It’s in the second paragraph of Austen’s Wikipedia entry, for crying out loud. Doesn’t anyone check facts anymore? Doesn’t anyone have a copy editor who checks facts? Sigh. So much sloppiness, so little time.


Jan 24 2016 09:18PM by A. Marie

As a copy editor with more than 30 years in the business, I feel your pain. (And if you're shoveling snow, I also feel your pain. Plenty of practice here in Upstate NY, even though the Jonas storm left us alone for once.)

Jan 24 2016 10:51PM by Deborah Yaffe

Yes, I fear I have the soul of a copy editor, though I don't do that much of it professionally. Luckily for me, my husband does the shoveling -- a definite perk of matrimony . . .

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