For Hazlitt, Steven Price writes a beautiful elegy to his former editor, Ellen Seligman. Seligman and Price collaborated on Price’s By Gaslight, published in August, five months after Seligman’s passing.
Editing, at its highest level, is surely a creative act. I don’t know that Ellen would have used such language; she told me once that her task was simply to read attentively, to bring the full weight of her concentration to bear on a book. But Ellen’s concentration was a kind of genius, a sensitivity to a work and what it wanted to become. Her editing method was somewhat legendary: Ellen would examine every sentence, word by word, questioning if what was being achieved was in the book’s interest, or the author’s interest, or neither. Ellen liked to work in conversation with her authors—literally. We spoke on the phone almost daily for months, sometimes five days a week, usually for roughly five or six hours at a time.