My back seems to have returned to normal, which is nice, so I'm no longer taking the valium or percocet, although I've continued to take the horsepill of ibuprofen also prescribed to me. I suppose I can keep the extra happy pills for the next time I throw my back out or break my ankle or just want to make watching television bearable.
Now, the remainder of this post will be of interest, if at all, only to those connected to Academe.
I had one of those all too familiar and cautionary experiences this weekend of returning to some old research I'd done into a major writer's neglected novel. This particular piece of writing was something I'd sent out for publication back in the mid to late 1990's, and it had been returned to me from two prominent journals. The first prominent and oh so important journal had simply returned it to me with a form letter telling me that it was rejected. The second important journal had returned it with a reader's report, and looking again at the reader's report some ten year's hence, I thought, well it's not so bad and the journal is telling me to send it to a more specialized venue. OK. Good advice. I'll just polish it up and send it to a more likely target.
The first polishing of course involves seeing what's been done on your topic since the ancient day in which you wrote your piece. I found three articles. Not bad, given the length of time between my writing and today. Then I read the articles. The second newest one, published in 2003, is almost but not quite my very argument. It's a pretty shitty feeling to read in a nice published essay an argument similar to your own unpublished dogeared manuscript. I say similar, because it's still possible to salvage my article, but I will need to redirect it to incorporate this new research, because otherwise what's the point, right?
Besides, the 2003 article is more solid than mine -- the tact this writer took is based more solidly on documentary evidence and not circumstantial, speculative evidence as mine is. In other words, while I don't necessarily agree with the entire line of reasoning the writer uses, I see the actual archival evidence he bases it on, and that's good.
I already announced as my new year's resolution a dedication to scholarly publication, so I obviously can't back down from this challenge.