Say you’re the kind of person who never ends a sentence with a preposition. You’re studious about distinguishing between “its” and “it’s,” and you’re likely to judge a person who says “nauseous” when they should have said “nauseated.” But occasionally, if you’re being honest with yourself, you suspect that a lot of the grammar rules you follow are conditional or even arbitrary. Herewith, Steven Pinker offers ten rules you should break from time to time. (Related: Fiona Maazel wrote an essay for The Millions on good grammar.)
The University of Texas at Austin has recently acquired Kazuo Ishiguro’s archive. The collection reveals early drafts, a pulp Western novel that Ishiguro thought had been lost, and his early attempts at songwriting. "For many years," he said, "I've been in the habit of keeping a large cardboard box under my desk into which I throw, more or less indiscriminately, all papers produced during my writing that I don't want to file neatly and take into the next stage of composition: earlier drafts of chapters, rejected pages, scraps of paper with scribbled thoughts, repeated attempts at the same paragraph, etc.”
A recent survey of 19th century British literature uncovered advertising subtly placed within classic texts by authors like Dickens, Austen, and Thackeray. From Vanity Fair, for example: “‘My sisters say she has diamonds as big as pigeons' eggs,’ George said, laughing. ‘How they must set off her complexion! Surely she avails herself of Madame A.T. Rowley's Toilet Mask (or Face Gloves)...’” (via Book Bench)
If Claudia Rankine writes it, it's safe to say I'd recommend it. Here she is in a long, lovely essay on Adrienne Rich and her poetic transformations.