Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0025020, Thu, 23 Jan 2014 22:36:30 -0200

[SIGHTING] Nabokov and punctuation marks

The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature - by Kathryn Schulz.

"The muse gets all the press, but here's a fact: Good writing involves obsessing over punctuation marks. [ ] As a rule, the effect of all that obsession is subtle, a kind of pixel-by-pixel accretion of style. Once in a while, though, a bit of punctuation pops its head up over the prose [ ] I was reminded of the existence of this canon last month, while rereadingMiddlemarch, which contains what might be the most celebrated use of an em-dash in the history of fiction. That sent me to my bookshelves in search of other examples of remarkable punctuation."
[ ]
1. The parentheses in Nabokov's Lolita
"My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three..."
The sentence goes on - for 84 more words, eleven commas, one colon, one semicolon, and another set of parentheses. But the reader, like Humbert Humbert's unlucky mother, stops dead. Nabokov is a daredevil writer, and often a florid one, but what he shows off here is unbestable economy. Like the lightning inside it, this parenthetical aside is swift, staggering, and brilliant. It is also Lolita (and Humbert) in miniature: terrific panache containing terrible darkness.

2. The em-dash in George Eliot's Middlemarch
"One morning, some weeks after her arrival at Lowick, Dorothea - but why always Dorothea?"


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