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Tuesday, 29 January 2008


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This is why I went into Irish Studies. John Mitchel would never have put up with such needlessly florid prose.

The Constructivist

There's your epitaph for the book!

Vance Maverick

That's pretty magnificent. Grammatically, though, I think the only problem is the extra negative.

Who is to say that ... the time has not come when [resources, commerce, strength] have not stimulated that ... restlessness ... into an activity ...?

David Moles

Ditto Vance -- there's one more not in there than there should be.

Two commas and a couple of em dashes help a bit:

Who is to say that, in the evolution of such a Republic as this, the time has not come when the immense development of our internal resources -- and the marvelous growth of our domestic and foreign commerce, and a realization of our virile strength -- have not stimulated that Anglo-Saxon restlessness...

After that it's pretty much a solid block, though.

Beats with the blood is a bit infelicitous, and I'm not sure you can actually "quench" an activity. (I'd lose the activity altogether, frankly.) Here's my try at a rewrite, with some anachronistic late-18th- / early-19th-century commas and emphasis:

There comes a time, in the evolution of such a Republic as this, that the immense development of our internal resources, the marvelous growth of our domestic and foreign commerce, and (most of all) the realization of our virile strength, so stimulate that Anglo-Saxon restlessness that beats in the heart of our race, that it will not be quenched -- not until we have at last planted our standard in this far-off archipelago that inevitable destiny has entrusted into our hands.

Who is to say that time has not come?

Well, me, for one, 'cause it kind of implies that the course of evolution of any such Republic as this will -- at some point -- entail inevitable destiny thrusting that particular far-off archipelago into the Republic's hands.

But maybe they can organize some kind of standard-planting rota.


Who indeed? Or maybe I'm just feeling sympathetic to Wolcott because I wrote at least sixteen sentences that are far worse than his earlier this evening. I'm pithy. Veritably, a man of great pith am I.


Pardon the nitpick, Constructivist, but I assume you mean epigraph, not epitaph. Otherwise it's, um, not a very constructive thing that you're saying.


In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, (I paraphrase) the eponymous protagonist writes down the solution to a case he's working on and shows it to his secretary. "But this isn't words, this is just squiggles and dots," she says. "Exactly!" he responds. "I've changed an incredibly complex and probably unsolvable mystery into a simple linguistic problem. Now, all I have to do is determine what language this is written in and the case is solved."

It seemed a propos.

The Constructivist

Damn, I always get epigram and epigraph confused--how the hell did epitaph slip in there?

Or maybe I should stick with the slip and suggest that the best dissertation is a dead one?


I kinda like the idea of burying a dissertation, myself.

Martin G.

Holy mixed metaphors, Batman! An activity that's quenched, a restlessness that beats with the blood, an archipelago which is both far-off and entrusted into our hands. This guy really hits the nail on the level.

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