5 posts tagged with johnmcphee. (View popular tags)
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In 1807, [Noah Webster] started writing a dictionary, which he called, boldly,An American Dictionary of the English Language. He wanted it to be comprehensive, authoritative. Think of that: a man sits down, aiming to capture his language whole. Dictionaries today are not written this way. In fact it’d be strange even to say that they’re written. They are built by a large team, less a work of art than of engineering. When you read an entry you don’t get the sense that a person labored at his desk, alone, trying to put the essence of that word into words. That is, you don’t get a sense, the way you do from a good novel, that there was another mind as alive as yours on the other side of the page.
This was not the act of a fringe contingent. The letter—which, until now, has never been published in its entirety—is signed by 154 staffers, including J.D. Salinger, Calvin Trillin, John McPhee, Jamaica Kincaid, Saul Steinberg and Janet Malcolm. There are a few notable abstentions, including John Updike and Charles McGrath, who would soon be named Gottlieb's deputy. At the bottom, it reads "cc: S. I. Newhouse."The Letter: Robert Gottlieb's Tenure as the New Yorker's Managing Editor, Elon Green, The Awl (SLTheAwl)