Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pause and Effect

An exquisite volume of scholarship. The text combines a history of punctuation in the West, as a narrative based almost entirely on evidence from original manuscripts, with copious notes and samples of manuscripts that come complete with original text, translations into modern English and a commentary on the importance of the manuscript to the development of punctuation.

Parkes reveals the correlation of historical conditions leading to changing functions for written English with the changes in type and function of punctuation marks, identifying where and how historical changes produced the current merging of written-to-be-spoken and written-to-be-read-silently punctuation marks and practices.

Another goodreads.com review.

An original copy of this book, published by Scolar Press, was kindly provided by KUSTAR as a British Library loan. It is also available online from Ashgate.com, who have reprinted and republished it. The new edition is a great improvement: the manuscripts and documents are so much clearer than in the previous edition. Here is what Ashgate have to say about the book:

From its publication in 1992 Pause and Effect has become a cornerstone of the study of punctuation across the world. Described as 'magisterial' by Lynne Truss in her best-selling Eats, Shoots and Leaves, this book has stimulated interest and scholarly debates among writers, literary critics, philosophers, linguists, rhetoricians, palaeographers and all those who study the use of language. To celebrate this extraordinary achievement, Pause and Effect has been republished in September 2008, coinciding with the publication of the author's new work, Their Hands Before Our Eyes.
The first part of Pause and Effect identifies the graphic symbols of punctuation and deals with their history. It covers the antecedents of the repertory of symbols, as well as the ways in which the repertory was refined and augmented with new symbols to meet changing requirements. The second part offers a short general account of the principal influences which have contributed to the ways in which the symbols have been applied in texts, focusing on the evidence of the practice itself rather than on theorists. The treatment enables the reader to compare usages in different periods, and to isolate the principles which underlie the use of punctuation in all periods.
The examples and plates which are at the core of the book provide the reader with an opportunity to test the author's observations. The examples are taken from a wide range of literary texts from different periods and languages. Latin texts are accompanied by English translation intended to illustrate the use of punctuation in the originals in so far as this is possible.

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