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Stet

24/10/2012

Uma recepção calorosa aos nossos novos leitores em Moçambique

Madame (Marie de Rabutin-Chantal) de Sévigné was a profuse writer of letters while at the court of Louis XIV, and more than 1,100 of them survive. They provide an intimate view of the times of the Sun King. When R. B. McKerrow edited a new English translation of the letters, the first galley-proofs came back from the printer with the spelling of de Sévigné queried by the proofreader on almost every page, since he was convinced that there was no accent on the first syllable.

Dr. McKerrow conscientiously crossed out each question mark and wrote “stet,” the Latin word for “let it stand” and the standard printer’s imperative for “It’s OK. Leave it.”

Nevertheless, the final proofs came back with de Sévigné queried yet again, on page after page. Dr. McKerrow began writing “stet” again and again, but soon tired of it and scribbled an angry note to the proofreader. It was by now time for the long-suffering printer to take his revenge. When the first copies of the book were delivered to McKerrow, he was horrified to find his intemperate note printed right in the middle of one of the letters:

“For God’s sake, stop popping up between Madame de Sévigné and me!’

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