Thursday, March 19, 2009

Be obscure clearly ...

I am proofreading a new text - happily not one from the Publishers from Hell - and so my posts are even less frequent, I fear.

Writers, editors and proofreaders will be familiar with Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. I've been looking for a second-hand copy locally, but I think I will rather get this version, illustrated by the fabulous Maira Kalman. This is her illustration for the following admonishment from their book:
Even to a writer who is being intentionally obscure or wild of tongue we can say, "Be obscure clearly! Be wild of tongue in a way we can understand!"
What a find! A ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day filled with protozoa, algae and fungi ...

7 comments:

Linda Sue said...

Of all books to choose to illustrate! Dry old Elements Of Style, text book for every English class ever taught. That is just brilliant! I do wish you a speedy proof reading...Thinking of you behind all of those sentences!sigh.Thanks for the find- I will probably go to B&N today and check it out.

kendalee said...

I have this version and it's gorgeous! Definitely the one to go for.

Thinking of you as you proofread... I feel so much better knowing that you'll have had your hands and eyes on those texts!

aimee said...

have you ever read the history of the siege of lisbon by jose saramago? it's a story about a proofreader who changes one word on a whim in a textbook and winds up changing history because of it. it's a wonderful book.

on second thought, you probably don't need anything else to read right now ;)

Jesse said...

'Be obscure clearly' ... that's a strong contender for My Eventual Next Tattoo!

Anairam said...

linda sue - Now don't you go and buy the last copy! (I've just finished the proofreading a little while ago and now I'm off to an exhibition opening at a gallery nearby, where I will be sneezing, coughing and snuffling my way through the catalogue and a glass of wine. I have a horrible, horrible cold ...)

kendalee - No wonder you write so beautifully! (The material I've been working on was written in Afrikaans and translated into English - very directly, I'm afraid. So to get it at this late stage as the proofreader is a bit problematic - I'm getting rid of the most glaring problems, but I can't do too much - apart from rewriting the entire thing!)

aimee - It sounds like a wonderful book - thanks for the reference - I'm certainly going to try and get hold of it. Oh, the power of the proofreader! Just think - I can change the entire course of history! Mwuh haha haaaaaaa!!

jesse - Yes, isn't it great? "Be wild of tongue" is also good, but may be misinterpreted ...

Freshly Found said...

Keep strong in all that biological stuff. Looking forward to the return of your laptop and your creative endeavors!!!

Linda Sue said...

MISS YOU! Am going through withdrawals! I hope that your coldishness has had it's way and is gone now- leaving you stronger and ready to take on the creative world with your own book! I will buy LOADS!