Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mark Twain Insult of the Day #3

Today's subject is a London book reviewer who, Mr. Clemens felt, prized proper grammar at the expense of clarity and style.

I suppose we all have our foibles. I like the exact word, and clarity of statement, and here and there a touch of good grammar for picturesqueness; but that reviewer cares for only the last-mentioned of these things. His grammar is foolishly correct, offensively precise. It flaunts itself in the reader's face all along, and struts and smirks and shows off, and is in a dozen ways irritating and disagreeable . . . I do not like that kind of persons. I never knew one of them that came to any good . . . I would never hesitate to injure that kind of man if I could.


Mike said...

I get the feeling that, if I were to borrow this book when you're finished reading it, I'd find it naturally fell open to "the good parts."

Or is it all this entertainingly venomous?

Brian Fies said...

It's a mixed bag--some more entertaining than others and I wouldn't call it a light read, but it's all Twain. I'm doing something I rarely do, which is marking it up and underlining bits I like. I don't usually write in books--to me they're sacred relics that should remain unprofaned by mortal hands--but I knew if I didn't I'd let too much wonderfulness slip past and get away. Karen walked by the other night, looked at one of my margin notes and said, "I wonder what Mark Twain would've thought of 'LOL.'"