Goodbye to a grammarian
The New Yorker has a reverent obit on Eleanor Gould (by David Remnick, no less), who worked at the magazine 54 years, mostly as grammarian, a title created for her that was retired with her.
A typical "Gould proof" was filled with the lightly pencilled tracery of her objections, suggestions, and abbreviated queries: "emph?" "ind.," "mean this?" She confronted the galley proofs of writers as various as Joseph Mitchell, J. D. Salinger, Janet Flanner--well, everyone, really. She did a proof on every nonfiction piece published in the magazine. Even a writer as determinedly vernacular as Pauline Kael, who initially found Miss Gould's suggestions intrusive, came to accept them--many of them, anyway--with gratitude. Her reading was detached, objective, scientific, as if she somehow believed that a kind of perfection in prose was possible. Like Bobby Fischer's sense of the chessboard, her feel for English was at a higher level than the rest of us--we editors and writers--could hope to glimpse.Read about her language peeves, some amusing anecdotes on her "over-editing" ("Miss Gould once found what she believed were four grammatical errors in a three-word sentence") and what she did in her free time.
And if you're still looking for a copy-editing hero, she sounds like a good candidate.