BIERCE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF PROOFREADING.
Typed Letter Signed (Ambrose Bierce), 7 pp, oblong 8vo, Washington, DC, January 8, 1913, to Walter Neale, about errors in the recently published collected works, with annotations to most pages, leaves moderated toned, fading to right margin of first few leaves, mild staining to pp 1, 2, 4, and 7.
Lengthy response to a conversation with the publisher of the Collected Works regarding the typographical errors in the final printed version, which Bierce had tried desperately to eradicate before going to press. After saying that he does not mean to offend Neale, Bierce writes: I know that the inevitability of mechanical errors
in printing is a popular belief. I have seen and heard it affirmed from childhood, and once accepted it without question; but Ive had an even longer experience than yours, and long ago found that it is largely itself an error. Bierce goes on to mention his own years of editing newspapers where he found the proofreading so excellent he had nothing to mark, and goes on to decimate Neales excuses for the state of the edition point by point. The importance of all this is that if you hold that a high degree of accuracya near approach to perfectionin the mechanical part of the art of book-making is unattainable you will, of course, not try to attain it; that would be a waste of time, money and effort. Whereby your (our) house will suffer, as begging your pardon, it does suffer. Please, do please, understand that criticism is not censure in its modern meaning of condemnation. It may come, as in this instance it does come, of a sincere and friendly desire to be helpful to a friend to whom I owe so much.
Provenance: from the collection of M.B. Goldstone.