Friday, December 4, 2015

Fragment: Collaboration

Fragment from: Gardiner, Alan H. My Working Years. London: Coronet Press, 1962.
One day [Battiscomb] Gunn brought me a sheaf of articles on different points of Egyptian Grammar which he had written without my knowledge, and which he wished to submit to my criticism. To my great astonishment these articles included syntactical discoveries of the greatest importance. It is possible, or even probable that the original  work reflected much of our common discussions, but many of Gunn's results were entirely new to me, and I was greatly excited thus to become acquainted with things which could not be described otherwise than as epoch-making. But now Gunn asked me to hand back his typescripts because as he said 'I wish to make some additions and reconsider some points'. To this I replied that he had worked at my expense for a number of years without  giving me any quid pro quo and that I intended to keep his articles and to get them printed. He was very angry with this ultimatum of mine, but he had no choice but to accept it, and I carried out my threat and--made his reputation! In Germany, Gunn's Studies in Egyptian Syntax (1924) created great interest and, in particular, Sethe never tired of referring in his lectures to die Gunnische Regel! I daresay that my treatment of my old friend Gunn in this matter was unpleasantly dictatorial, but it was not long before he forgave me, as will be seen from the paragraph of acknowledgments which I quoted above. It will be seen from the bibliography of Gunn which his Egyptian pupil, Bakir, compiled after his death (Ann. du Serv. L. 423-5) that his subsequent publications were relatively meager when viewed in the light of his indisputable genius, but for this there were two reasons, firstly that he was an incorrigible perfectionist and, secondly, because he became enthusiastically absorbed in teaching, an occupation in which he achieved great success, see JEA XXXV, 105.


  1. Hmmm.. Annals of procrastination and perfectionism - and friendship!

  2. This little book (which I'm sorry to say I hadn't seen before today) is filled with stories like this.