April 21, 2004
Blurbular Etiquette

In yesterday's NRO Impromptus, Jay Nordlinger writes (near the end):

One of the most interesting biographical lines under an op-ed piece I've ever seen? It comes from the Wall Street Journal, which printed a piece under the name of King Abdullah II. The bio: "Abdullah II is the king of Jordan." Somewhat cool, huh? I mean, how would you like your biographical line to read, "John Smith is the king of [X country]"?

That reminds me of a dilemma a friend was faced with some years ago. As editor of a respected journal of philosophy published by a Catholic university, he had accepted a paper on Phenomenology from a European churchman little-known outside his own country. Between the time the paper was accepted and the time the issue went to print, the man was promoted to a much bigger job. This presented a serious problem in phrasing the author blurb. I don't know how my friend eventually solved the problem, but I do recall some of the possibilities we discussed, not all of them serious:

  • "Karol Wojtyla needs no introduction." (Evade the main issue.)
  • "Karol Wojtyla is the Pope." (Keep it simple.)
  • "Karol Wojtyla is the Holy Father, the Vicar of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church", etc. (A full list of titles would fill half a page or more.)
  • "Karol Wojtyla wishes to assure his readers that he was not infallible when he wrote this paper." (My contribution. And yes, I know that he would not be infallible even now when writing scholarly articles on Phenomenology. Please do not write to tell me so.)

In today's Impromptus, Nordlinger quotes a Dutch politician: "People say we Dutch are very liberal. The truth is, we just don't care." Somewhere V. S. Naipaul wrote of "a tolerance which is more than tolerance—an indifference to virtue as well as vice". Is that the same thing?

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 21, 2004 10:04 PM

I like your version!

What about:
Karol Wojtyla, formerly offering opininions from the Chair of Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin, now issues them from the chair of Peter...

Posted by: Michael Tinkler on April 23, 2004 11:33 AM

Prof. Tinkler: Brilliant!

Posted by: Michelle Dulak on April 23, 2004 05:15 PM

Then there was the blurb on Mortimer Adler's autobiography: "Mortimer Adler is America's highest-paid philosopher."

Posted by: Bob Hawkins on April 24, 2004 08:46 PM