- Bibliographical Shaw: A Personal Note
Fred Crawford, who died on January 4, 1999, just short of his fifty-second birthday, was for virtually a decade an invaluable partner in the bulk of my Shavian publication: my editor, collaborator, sage advisor, and fun-loving friend. He was a dauntless adventurer, a sleuthhound, a research scholar of exceptional acuity, who instinctively grasped what Henry James terms “the implication of things.” In his editorial capacity he was, in my experience, unsurpassed.
Investigative bibliography for Fred was a vast new territory that he zealously embraced. For me the novelty lay in the fascination of a first exposure to the tantalizing Internet. For the two of us there was the challenge of delving into hitherto unexplored ramifications of Shaw’s involvements with copyright and translation. These we approached with the enthusiasm of teenagers, sharing and shaping our findings in profuse correspondence and frequent, interminable telephonic conversations. My God, how we gabbed!
Eventually we worked our way down to the selection and examination, conjunctively, of several hundred transcriptions of Shaw letters drawn from my files, for their useful detail or phrase. From these Fred would fashion an essay on Shaw and his translators (as prologue to his list of translations of Shaw in ten principal languages), which would be his most eloquent contribution to Bibliographical Shaw. On the first weekend of 1999, in an eighty-minute ironically self-congratulatory conversation, we mapped out the last segments of work lying before us, with Fred announcing that he was ready to plunge into the translator essay two days later—the fatal Monday.
Thus came the most unwonted task that has ever confronted me: bringing [End Page 1] to fruition the essay Fred had been cheated of the opportunity to transfer from mind to page. All I had to work with were bits and pieces, an unassembled, gargantuan jigsaw puzzle, from which to muster the intended essay. Collecting everything available—the Xeroxed transcriptions with Fred’s cryptic marginal markings indicating the texts he had been drawn to; the scrawled handwriting scurrying haphazardly across pages of notes he’d made during phone communications, circled, boxed, underscored, with darting arrows; and an accumulation of thoughts and ideas, newly transferred from my head to index cards, that Fred had articulated as we hunched shoulder to shoulder over a cluttered worktable in San Antonio, or that he had toyed with in prolific, almost daily correspondence.
There was, finally, a determination to combine these materials into a cohesive text that would be a cerebration of Fred’s intention even if it did not satisfy the admirers of his inimitable style, an amalgam of zest, wit, and driving power, nor benefit from the improving flourishes of his pen on the page proofs.
To the fullest extent conceivable I have completed the essay—and the rest of the book—in the collaborative manner in which Fred and I approached our project from its inception. The book is published exactly as we intended it—except for the unanticipated (but much deserved) title-page credit to MaryAnn Crawford, who bravely and determinedly stepped into the breach to fulfill as much of her husband’s obligation as she could—with Fred’s name and mine both affixed to this personal note, as they would have been to the originally conceived general introduction, so that Fred will not have been deprived by fate of the last joyous moment of creation: a joint inscription in a book we ardently shared.