Re: What's up with this, I say.

1

This should be interpreted as "Heebie has been out of the saddle for a week and must resume via dumb, impulsive posts in order to find the habit again."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:29 AM
horizontal rule
2

"Drop" quotation marks like "deploy" or "supply" quotation marks? Or "drop" like "omit"?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:31 AM
horizontal rule
3

Assuming "drop" as in "omit", I think Joyce may have been among the first to affect this, in Ulysses in 1918-20. And everybody else took it from there. I've never really understood the point.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
4

Drop like omit, not like beats.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:35 AM
horizontal rule
5

"the lack of quotation marks around the dialogue is a ridiculous piece of postmodern pretentiousness that has no place in your book." (Thomas Mallon, reviewing Tobias Wolff)


Posted by: Scomber mix | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:45 AM
horizontal rule
6

Cormac McCarthy on James Joyce and punctuation

IIRC Joyce didn't want dialogue to be separated from the other kinds of text, especially in Ulysses distinguished strongly from internal monologue. For one thing it makes the narrator and narration overt.

In film, imagine every spoken word done in medium closeup. Oops. Ozu.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
7

I guess the lack of quotemarks in Joyce goes back to Dubliners but a reliance on internal monologue and a desire to hide narration also is that early.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:51 AM
horizontal rule
8

6.2 sounds likely. McCarthy (6.1) says punctuation is to make things easier to read. But that depends on the attitude of the reader, over whom the author has no control.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:54 AM
horizontal rule
9

I try not to get judgy about effects that writers use, but this is one that really gets on my nerves. I like some of what Joyce did (The Dead, for instance, is a great story) but I can only read him by relentlessly ignoring this twerpy habit.

Other people think it's great, I understand.


Posted by: delagar | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:57 AM
horizontal rule
10

Quotation marks were really only regularized fairly recently (I want to say latter half of the 18th c?), so I'm used to reading a lot without them. Seems very oldschool to my eyes, but my eyes are weird.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:01 AM
horizontal rule
11

I think Jennifer Egan and Lauren Groff are the authors I've read recently that both do it. But maybe more because it's felt ubiquitous.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
12

Somebody Else who demands perverted commas.

Besides the visual ugliness on the page of the quotation marks, as I said, there are plenty of artistic purposes for not using them.

Every "he said" or "she retorted vehemently" takes the reader one huge step from an observer to an audience. It was very important to Joyce to blur or dissolve the supposed gap between the naturalistic surface and the authorial voice/intervention. Are the mythic parallels embedded in the narrative, things Bloom does, or merely filigree on top, only in the mind of Joyce?

Does J.R. show any authorial voice at all?

This is a very important part of the modernist project, to make the narration problematic.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
13

Last June, I took part in the DC Bloomsday reading. The hard part of reading Ulysses aloud isn't figuring out what's dialogue and what's not. It's distinguishing the various voices. And quotation marks wouldn't help in that at all.


Posted by: Jim | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:29 AM
horizontal rule
14

J R ...Wiki

The novel is told almost entirely in dialogue, and there is sometimes little indication (other than conversational context) of which character is speaking. (Gaddis later said he did this in order to make the reader a collaborator in the process of creating the characters.[6]) There are also no chapters, with transitions between scenes occurring by way of shifts in focalization: for example, a character who is in a meeting may leave the meeting, get in his car, and drive off*, passing, as he does so, another character, who becomes the subject of the next scene without any break in the continuity of the narration (though the novel is written in a discontinuous or fragmentary tone).

*Oh really? Most of it is like in the "Proteus" section of Ulysses, we "see" a rock because Stephen says "Ouch"

I find this stuff pretty fascinating. "Of course the living room in the movie has a ceiling, we have seen the house from the outside, and the characters are acting normally."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
15
I also like to pretend that they're too pure to be caught up in trends.

I'm perpetually unclear on the anti-prescriptivist message one hears out and about: on the one hand, sure, it doesn't do to be a stick-in-the-mud; on the other, isn't there such a thing as pure trendiness in usage, so a person might object to the latest thing?

I eventually figure that no one has the upper hand in this argument, or ever will.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 11:45 AM
horizontal rule
16

I was all excited to comment because, at last, an area in which I have real expertise. But I see that Bob has already said pretty much everything I would have.

The one thing I'd add is that Zadie Smith seems to be doing something rather different when she drops the quotation marks in NW: often, the dialogue there is not only untagged, but also printed in a different font, as if it's a fragment from some other text, dropped into the novel. It's an interesting effect.


Posted by: Mme. Merle | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:00 PM
horizontal rule
17

Totally OT: A friend has never seen the Stevie Wonder Sesame Street thing where the little kid with the wild hair is totally rocking out on the fire escape. You know the one I mean? I found this on the YouTube, but it barely shows the kid. There must be another version. I'm sort of hoping someone knows, so that I don't have to watch 5 instances of this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:05 PM
horizontal rule
18

I've never really understood the point.

It sort of changes the character of the reading process? The dialogue isn't as obviously something separate? It doesn't bother me even a little; it's very easy to get used to.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:07 PM
horizontal rule
19

This should be interpreted as "Heebie has been out of the saddle for a week and must resume via dumb, impulsive posts in order to find the habit again."
Hooray!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
20

Does J.R. show any authorial voice at all?

Yes, it just comes out of Gibbs' mouth.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:09 PM
horizontal rule
21

I'm a slow enough reader that I get fed up with any author who doesn't stick to punctuation standards, doesn't make it abundantly clear who is speaking, or gets too clever with the narration.

I was thinking the other day how much I'd like to read a translation of the Iliad, if only they dropped the pretext of writing in verse and integrated all the explanatory stuff that usually goes into footnotes into the text of the story itself. As it is, a book like that is just way to inaccessible to me.... I want to read the story, but I can't be bothered to fight with the formatting.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:34 PM
horizontal rule
22

Also, I'd like to read King Lear without wading through all that flowery language.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:37 PM
horizontal rule
23

Maybe you should read Christopher Logue's version of the Iliad, which is almost exactly the opposite of what you're asking for but which you might like anyway.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:38 PM
horizontal rule
24

James Kelman does it. It annoys me less when he does, than when some others do it, although generally I'm not a fan of omitted quotation marks. Excerpt:

http://www.randomhouse.com/boldtype/0497/warner/kelman_excerpt.html


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 12:58 PM
horizontal rule
25

re: 21/23

Actually, I'd be interested in Iliad translation recommendations, too. I've never read it in full.*

Pointlessly flowery inelegant translation is a pain in the arse. I remember, when I learned enough Norse to read bits of the sagas, being quite annoyed at how flowery some translations were.

Norse: 'He came, in the evening, to the town.'
Translation:'Forthwith, in the gloaming he didst descend upon the burg.'

* I read an abridged/possibly-bowdlerised version as a kid.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 1:04 PM
horizontal rule
26

James Kelman

Huh. Will investigate. Thanks.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 1:11 PM
horizontal rule
27

IMO, the whole observer audience thing is so much claptrap. Or a failed experiment, to be more charitable. What using no-standard forms do is make the reader aware of the form. Whereas a standard form is invisible to one familiar with it. I don't have a problem with language that summons images or feelings, but really, don't act like your identity as an artist means anything to me at all.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
28

+n


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 1:17 PM
horizontal rule
29

27:Here ya go, CC. Somebody else who misses the 19th.

Roger Scruton Dec 17 read skimmed this morning.

Instead of argument, Foucault sees 'discourse'; in the place of truth he sees power. In Foucault's view, all discourse gains acceptance by expressing, fortifying and concealing the power of those who maintain it; and those who, from time to time, perceive this fact are invariably imprisoned as criminals or locked away as mad -- a fate that Foucault himself unaccountably avoided.

Also dismisses Rorty, Althusser, Lacan, of course Marx, all Marxians, and anybody else who asks "Who or what is talking here?" Which is THE question.

A long and lively comment section was generated.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 1:52 PM
horizontal rule
30

Lauren Groff didn't use quotation marks? I honestly didn't notice. #humblebrag #ormaybejustoblivious


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
31

What using no-standard forms do is make the reader aware of the form.

I think this is so much claptrap. When it comes to setting dialogue off with dashes instead of enclosing it within quotation marks, or, in fact, doing neither (as in At Swim-Two-Birds), I'd be surprised if you're still aware of it in a way that interferes with the reading after ten pages.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 3:55 PM
horizontal rule
32

Also, by this point "dialogue set off by dashes" isn't terribly radical.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
33

I seem to recall that the Lombardo translation of the Iliad is very readable.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:01 PM
horizontal rule
34

30: Nope! At least not so far.

The author has actually married into my high school group of friends, incidentally.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:47 PM
horizontal rule
35

(And lives in that town, and everyone likes to talk about the various ways that they're chummy with her.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:50 PM
horizontal rule
36

(That adoration is rightfully MINE.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:53 PM
horizontal rule
37

And thus something formerly non-standard becomes standard.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
38

I tried to get my high school group of friends to marry interesting people, but it turned out that interesting people tended not to view us as marriage material.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 4:54 PM
horizontal rule
39

Rieu's translation was quite readable. No idea how accurate of course.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:02 PM
horizontal rule
40

(I must admit to a Bluth-esque "Him? ...Huh" when I heard who her spouse was.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
41

Apparently I've started using parentheses instead of quotes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:04 PM
horizontal rule
42

Then you could use brackets instead of internal quotes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:06 PM
horizontal rule
43

({"Not trying to draw attention to anything here."})

I almost inverted the order of the second bracket and parentheses to see who was so irked that they had to point it out.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:09 PM
horizontal rule
44

I suppose I'm OK with leaving out quotation marks (although it's preferable if the author has some actual reason for do so), but I've definitely passed the point in my life when I could handle huge masses of undifferentiated text* with equanimity. I used to be much better with that kind of thing as recently as 10 years ago.

* (No paragraph breaks, no markers of any kind, for pages and pages. I think once I noticed the similarity between that style of writing and the writing of Usenet crackpots, my ability to deal with it started to decline.)


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 5:25 PM
horizontal rule
45

Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations might be read as dialog without quotation marks. I do not have a problem with this.


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 6:59 PM
horizontal rule
46

The Lombardo Illiad looks good, but its still not bastardized enough. Basically, I think reading poetry is too hard so I want someone to translate it into prose. Or maybe a comic book.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:00 PM
horizontal rule
47

I did try reading a King Lear comic book one time, but again I got bogged down by the language. Also the drawing was way too post-modern. I was hoping for something that looked more like Prince Valiant.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:03 PM
horizontal rule
48

Patroclus fought like dreaming:
His head thrown back, his mouth—wide as a shrieking mask—
Sucked at the air to nourish his infuriated mind
And seemed to draw the Trojans onto him,
To lock them round his waist, red water, washed against his chest,
To lay their tired necks against his sword like birds.
—is it a god? Divine? Needing no tenderness?—
Yet instantly they touch, he butts them,
Cuts them back:
—Kill them!
My sweet Patroclus,
—Kill them!
As many as you can,
For
Coming behind you through the dust you felt
—what was it?—felt Creation part, and then

APOLLO!
Who had been patient with you

Struck.

His hand came from the east,
And in his wrist lay all eternity;
And every atom of his mythic weight
Was poised between his fist and bent left leg.
Your eyes lurched out. Achilles' bonnet rang
Far and away beneath the cannon-bones of Trojan horses,
And you were footless … staggering … amazed …
Between the clumps of dying, dying yourself,
Dazed by the brilliance in your eyes,
The noise—like weirs heard far away—
Dabbling your astounded fingers
In the vomit on your chest.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:11 PM
horizontal rule
49

The battle felt like a dream. Head thrown back and mouth agape, like a shrieking mask, Patroclus sucked in the air that nourished his infuriated mind. It was as if the Trojans were drawn into him, their blood washed like water against his chest. He lay his sword across their necks his sword like chickens to a farmers ax. "Kill them, Patroclus" said a voice in his head. "Kill them all, as many as you can."


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:42 PM
horizontal rule
50

No?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:48 PM
horizontal rule
51

That's pretty close. Not sure how near it is to the actual Iliad story, though. But I might give it a shot, if it one day becomes available to a device which I own.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:54 PM
horizontal rule
52

Or maybe what I need is "Asterix goes to Troy"


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:58 PM
horizontal rule
53

48 is really good, but it does make me think all these classicists are just reading BCE versions of graphic novels.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:59 PM
horizontal rule
54

Although I guess Asterix would need access to a time machine, then. Seems unlikely.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 9:59 PM
horizontal rule
55

On the other hand, the convenient thing about time machines is that you can always get one from the future, so maybe its not so unrealistic after all.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-22-12 10:15 PM
horizontal rule
56

48. Logue?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 4:18 AM
horizontal rule
57

Didn't see 23. Shit.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 4:20 AM
horizontal rule
58

As noted, people have been doing it for awhile. I think you see it most often in the first person, as though to denote the unreliability of the quote.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 6:40 AM
horizontal rule
59

Re Illiad translations -- try one of the first and still one of the best, Alexander Pope's translation. He is the only translation to my knowledge that does the whole thing in rhyming couplets (and he is of course great at it). Adds tremendous dramatic force, particularly to the dialogue scenes. The non-rhyming meter-based modern versions have frequently seemed to me like just unnecessarily tortured prose. Hard to read the whole thing straight through, but try just the first book and see what you think.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 8:23 AM
horizontal rule
60

Here is the first book on line.

This version is just full of fantastic stuff, and the rhyming carries it along. Here is Achilles denouncing Agammemnon, the heart of the plot:

"O monster! mix'd of insolence and fear,
Thou dog in forehead, but in heart a deer!
When wert thou known in ambush'd fights to dare,
Or nobly face the horrid front of war?
'Tis ours, the chance of fighting fields to try;
Thine to look on, and bid the valiant die:
So much 'tis safer through the camp to go,
And rob a subject, than despoil a foe.
Scourge of thy people, violent and base!
Sent in Jove's anger on a slavish race;
Who, lost to sense of generous freedom past,
Are tamed to wrongs;-- or this had been thy last.
Now by this sacred sceptre hear me swear,
Which never more shall leaves or blossoms bear,
Which sever'd from the trunk (as I from thee)
On the bare mountains left its parent tree;
This sceptre, form'd by temper'd steel to prove
An ensign of the delegates of Jove,
From whom the power of laws and justice springs
(Tremendous oath! inviolate to kings);
By this I swear:-- when bleeding Greece again
Shall call Achilles, she shall call in vain.
When, flush'd with slaughter, Hector comes to spread
The purpled shore with mountains of the dead,
Then shall thou mourn the affront thy madness gave,
Forced to deplore when impotent to save:
Then rage in bitterness of soul to know
This act has made the bravest Greek thy foe."


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 8:30 AM
horizontal rule
61

You can always buy this selection of snippets from about a million translations of Homer, and then skim and pick the one you like best. Also, Matthew Arnold's Sohrab and Rustum, while not a translation, is a great riff off the Iliad.


Posted by: Awl | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 8:38 AM
horizontal rule
62

Omitting quotation marks has long been one of the favorite techniques for writers to make their books baffling and unreadable, reading a historical high point in the work of Gaddis. But it also has good uses, such as in "Three Men And A Boat". (my copy at least)


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-23-12 12:14 PM
horizontal rule