Sunday, January 11, 2004

The hidden wit of reference books. This is the example errata slip in the Oxford Guide to Style, the book formerly known as Hart's Rules. The trick is to imagine what kind of book could contain all three errors, and how many legal actions might result:

p. 197, line 9: for 2.5 mg digoxin PO read 0.25 mg digoxin PO
p. 204, line 15: for live wire read earth wire
p. 399, line 2: for guilty. read 'not proven'.

[The Oxford Guide to Style, by R. M. Ritter, Oxford University Press 2000. If you need it, you need it; which doesn't explain why I'm reading it for fun.]

Jane Austen's broken homes. "Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father's behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible. But she had never felt so strongly as now, the disadvantages which must attend the children of so unsuitable a marriage, nor ever been so fully aware of the evils arising from so ill-judged a direction of talents..." -- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
There is a book in the manner of Jane Austen and the French Revolution to be written on Jane Austen and Divorce. Oh, I know: it's probably been done several times, and refuted as often. And in the field this passage is no doubt embarrassingly famous. Opening of Chapter 42: striking flash of otherwise concealed misery. This is the second para; it's even clearer if you add the first.
[Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, 1813. Further comment probably impertinent.]