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The Complete Holmes

In response to:

Bad Man from Olympus from the July 13, 1995 issue

To the Editors:

Prof. Thomas C. Grey, in his otherwise positive review of The Collected Works of Justice Holmes, Volumes I–III [NYR, July 13], complained that a planned selection of Holmes’s judicial opinions were not published together with these first three volumes of public writings (books, articles, and public addresses). The result, he says, is a “curiously distorted version of the Justice,” for which he blames the publisher, the University of Chicago Press. The distortion will be short-lived, and the fault, if there is one, is not with the publishers. Two volumes of selected opinions, giving a substantially complete picture of Holmes’s work as a judge, are planned for next year. In still later volumes, I hope to include Holmes’s unpublished judicial papers, and his unpublished letters, which Grey rightly says are also “essential sources for the study of [Holmes’s] work.” I am flattered by the suggestion that all this could have been done at once; but two or three volumes at a time are about all that I can manage.

Sheldon M. Novick
Scholar in Residence
Vermont Law School
South Royalton, Vermont

Thomas C Grey replies:

In my review, I mentioned and praised Professor Novick’s plan to add two volumes of selected judicial opinions to the three of Holmes’s published writings. My complaint was only that the current set of three volumes does not approximate the Complete Holmes that many readers would like, nor will it even when the two judicial volumes are added. The convention of separating “works” from “letters” distorts Holmes more than it does most writers. But we are all grateful for Professor Novick’s skillful and diligent editorial scholarship, and it is especially good news that once his work on the present edition is finished he hopes to edit Holmes’s unpublished letters for print.

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