A dilemma: Routledge want to publish a sixth (!) edition of the Lion’s Share, but in order to justify calling it an ‘edition’ rather than a ‘reprint’ they want me to revise it and bring it up to date. I’ve already done that for the last four editions, and hated it. For a start, I’ve not really kept up with the new scholarship, having diverted to other things. It would take far too much work to catch up. Secondly, the fifth edition went up to 2012, which seems pretty ‘up to date’ to me. Thirdly, revising is never fun; it strikes me like returning to one’s own vomit. I am (to continue the rather unsavoury simile) heartily sick of all that imperial stuff, now it’s been kicked into the long grass by the post-colonialists, and is still – after all my efforts to discuss the legacy of the British Empire in a nuanced and subtle way – being publicly debated in the most simplistic terms: ‘are you for it or against? Come on. Yes or no?’ I feel I’ve already wasted enough of my time on this. Who listens to us academics?
Routledge suggested that, if I didn’t want to revise it myself, they could get someone else to do it for me. At first I resiled: messing around with my beautiful text? How dare they! So I suggested a compromise: that we keep it as it is, with a new short Introduction by me. But now I’m weakening; perhaps feeling less possessive towards my favourite (literary) child. It has grown up now, after all. It has been a favourite textbook (though I never liked its being described as that: I thought it was more) for universities and schools since 1975. It belongs to the world. It flatters me to think that it can still soldier on in this role for even longer. (Routledge obviously think so.) A properly revised edition could help in this.
So I’ve told them they can go ahead and try to find a collaborator – a young desperate scholar, presumably; older ones wouldn’t want to be bothered – so long as he or she doesn’t get rid of my jokes. And as long as I still get the ‘lion’s share’ (ha-ha) of the royalties. Any readers of this blog like to volunteer?