The youngest by far, the only woman, and without much in the way of academic laurels, I knew I was the smallest fish in the tank.
Still, I loved the project, and the chance to publish a translation side by side with essays by a few rather exhalted names seemed almost too good to be true. So I worked hard – not only on my own translation, but helping substantially with at least one other, transcribing whatever needed transcription, doubling as a last-minute proofreader, and so on, and so on.
And I was very happy when the curator said that my name must be on the cover as co-curator.
Then things happened, so the book was published in some haste after all, and even more hastily launched – and my name as co-curator was nowhere to be seen. Circimstances were rather special, though, and a real launch was expected to take place later in the year, and so I didn’t protest too much. Smallest fish, remember?
Months went by, and more things happened, and the “real” launch was decided and postponed several times – or so I thought, until a friend told me how she was coming to the launch next week, and was very happy for me…
I was dumbfounded. The launch? Next week? And nobody had thought to let me know? I called the curator, and complained. He was immensely sorry, his wife was unwell, the preparations had been frantic, he didn’t know how he could have left me out…
“Tp think you could have taken so much of the weight off my shoulders!” he concluded with disarming candour.
Now the curator is a rather ancient University don, a vague and generally very nice old gentleman, with this very sickly wife… I really had no heart to be cross with him. And true, the publisher is neither ancient nor burdened with a sickly wife, and invitations had been printed and sent with no mention of poor little me… and you are thinking I am a goose, and I should have made myself heard, aren’t you?
But you are right, I’m a goose. A small, white one. On the appointed day I went to the launch. There were the curator, the publisher, the two main contributors, the president of the local Accademia, and an unrelated speaker… They launched the book, explored its subject, showered each other with compliments…
And do you think it occurred to any of them to remember the co-curator, to at least let the audience know that such and such a small fish had swam with them in their tank at all?
They knew I was there, they had seen me – and, even if they hadn’t… I’ll admit I’m rather bitter about it. But perhaps this will be a salutary lesson to me, and I’ll stop sparing ancient curators when they all but appropriate my work, and will let other relevant parties have a piece of my mind before things happen, and stop being a damn nice girl. Or fish. Or whatever.