Mark My Words: Profiles of Punctuation in Modern Literature

Mark My Words - Mitchell
Date: 
May 01, 2020
ISBN: 
9781501360732

Mark My Words is a brief book on punctuation, style, and modern literature. Most writers are not notable for their punctuation, but more than a handful of the major figures in modern literature have signature styles that are defined by their punctuation choices.

Why are Emily Dickinson and Henry James (as well as Laurence Sterne) drawn habitually to dashes? Why is Cormac McCarthy a fan of commas and question marks, which William Carlos Williams tends to ignore? And why is that odd couple, the novelist Virginia Woolf and the short story specialist Andre Dubus II, devoted to semicolons (along, as it happens, with Flaubert)? Why do E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, and Nikki Giovanni prefer no punctuation at all? More importantly, what effect do such nonverbal marks have on the author's vision? Lee Clark Mitchell unpicks what such preferences imply, showing that each form of punctuation serves a singular thematic end.

The first book on modern literature to compare writers' use of punctuation, and to show how fully typographical marks alter our sense of authorial styles, Mark My Words offers new ways of reading some of our most important and beloved writers as well as new perspectives on literary style itself.

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