Help identifying a SF short story from the 80s

I recall reading a short story in the 80s, either in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine or Analog. It took place in a somewhat post-apocalyptic society, that was only slowly returning to any semblance of civilization. The protagonist, IIRC, was applying for acceptance at a university, where he hoped to learn to read, and later to read and provide the world with further understanding of the classics of Western Civilization’s Golden Age of Literature.

The twist was that “the classics of Western Civilization’s Golden Age of Literature” comprised all printed material that survived the collapse of civilization. Thus, the library had a couple of Shakespeare’s plays, right next to a series of children’s books, based on a pixie-like character who looked like a kewpie doll.

In point of fact, the illustration for the story showed the kewpie doll pixie leaning insouciantly against a bust of the Bard, on a bookshelf with only a small number of books on it.

Anybody recall the title? TIA.

I think I remember this story. The literature experts focused a lot of attention on the fonts used in reproductions of the ‘classics,’ and got excited about the publication of a schlocky deceive story, just because the typeface was different than previous editions? If that’s the one you mean, it was definitely Analog. If I think of the title, I’ll let you know.

That’s the one. I was reminded of it by Wednesday’s xkcd comic, and the discussion that’s taking place here in CS.


“schlocky detective story”

I looked at a few tables of contents from 80s Analogs (see here to see if any titles leaped out at me, and found a story I had been looking for, but no luck on yours yet.

Possibly A Man of Letters by Joseph Delaney (the title sounds promising anyway). Anyone got the August 88 issue of Analog?

Possibly. However, I think I recall the kewpie doll character’s name figuring into the title.

Ok. Next time I check through the Analog listings, I’ll look for that kind of title.

“Pixie Dixon and the Mystery of the Haunted Playpen” (and you had the word Pixie, right in the OP) - March 29, 1982 Analog (I got a copy of this issue from Abebooks to confirm)

P.S. Sometimes it takes me a while, but I do come through.

Nice one.
(Don’t want to leave that ignorance hanging.)