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Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, February 22, 2013


Twain, who said "when you catch an adjective, kill it," could not do without them either for more than a sentence. Here are his adjectives and adverbs:
So the longer I went to school the easier it got to be. I was getting sort of used to the widow's ways, too, and they warn't so raspy on me. Living in a house and sleeping in a bed pulled on me pretty tight mostly, but before the cold weather I used to slide out and sleep in the woods sometimes, and so that was a rest to me. I liked the old ways best, but I was getting so I liked the new ones, too, a little bit. The widow said I was coming along slow but sure, and doing very satisfactory. She said she warn't ashamed of me.


undine said...

That's true, but look at some of those adjectives--"raspy." I'd settle for making an impression like that.

Jonathan said...

There's no "but" about it. Twain was a good writer. He didn't take any special effort to avoid adjectives, and he used them well. The adjectives are actually doing a lot of the heavy lifting hear.