Note on the Introduction to the Preface

Near the end of this post I knowingly conflate the ‘note on the translation’ in Jaymer Veers’s Poppies, Book One, with the ‘preface’ to the same. My suggestion was that both devices operate in much the same way. A ‘note on the translation’ has a more specific role, certainly, but the style in which it is composed nonetheless shares many similarities with its more general neighbour.

Many, of course, would differ. In his pioneering 1989 essay ‘So Many Ways of Starting’, Christopher Le Root argued that ‘there are worlds of differences between a foreword and a preface, between an introduction and a welcome, between preliminary remarks and biographical notes. Whosoever conflates all of the above does so foolishly’.

Call me a fool then. My problem lies in the fact that, though there is plenty of evidence of differences, there is just as much evidence of similarities. Of confusion, finally, there is the most evidence. This is best expressed in Jon Hiegler’s novel, Forcefully Restrained, which opens with a ‘note on the introduction to the preface’: a dangerous conflation if ever I saw one, but a hilarious piece of writing all the same.

Another book that springs to mind is Joanna Maylingtaw’s edited collection of Hepzebah Brown’s early essays. This work contains a foreword, a preface, a biographical note, an introduction and a note on the translation – all written by seperate authors. None of them, sadly, are in the least bit interesting, which would no doubt delight Brown. One steps into her essays, at last, with a palpable sense of relief.

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