Quotes for Writers

Quotes for Writers When the humorist James Thurber was writing for New Yorker editor Harold Ross in the 1930s and 1940s, the two men often had very strong words about commas. It is pleasant to picture the scene: two hard-drinking alpha males in trilbies smacking a big desk and barking at each other over the niceties of punctuation. According to Thurber’s account of the matter (in The Years with Ross [1959]), Ross’s “clarification complex” tended to run somewhat to the extreme: he seemed to believe there was no limit to the amount of clarification you could achieve if you just kept adding commas. Thurber, by self-appointed virtuous contrast, saw commas as so many upturned chairs unhelpfully hurled down the wide-open corridor of readability. And so they endlessly disagreed. If Ross...
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