The Limerick: 1700 Examples With Notes, Variants And Index Gershon Legman

ISBN: 9780814806999

Published: January 1st 1952


517 pages


The Limerick: 1700 Examples With Notes, Variants And Index  by  Gershon Legman

The Limerick: 1700 Examples With Notes, Variants And Index by Gershon Legman
January 1st 1952 | Hardcover | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, RTF | 517 pages | ISBN: 9780814806999 | 3.57 Mb

This is a curious little book. As an autobiography it suffers from the fact that it leaves out nearly all of the most interesting parts of Franklin’s life. This is a bit like reading an autobiography of John Lennon that ends a few years before he meets Paul McCartney. I’m not saying there is no interest in what is here, but any sort of version of such a man’s life that ends well short of the American Revolution is more than a little heart breaking.There are very amusing parts of this – particularly around how he sought to improve himself both morally, through a thirteen step plan, and as a writer.

In fact, as ‘advice to a young writer’ this book offers some wonderful advice. He would read what he considered to be well written articles and then, a day or two later, would try to re-compose them, as accurately as possible, from memory. Then he would go back to the original article and compare his effort with that. As he persisted with this strategy he would sometimes find he had improved on the original, making the ordering of the points raised more logical or finding a particularly apt phrase that made the point in a way better than had been done in the original.

This is such good advice. It is remarkably hard for us to take the reader into consideration when we write – and this method forces us to do exactly that. We think we know what we mean when we write something, but all too often we are only sure of our meaning at the moment we write it, and sometimes not even then. My favourite metaphor is that a writer must ‘take the reader in hand’.

And that is the level of care that is called for in our writing. His advice on arguing and avoiding words that imply too much certainty in our views is also well worth heeding.It is interesting to read someone so steeped in the Enlightenment. To read a humanist who, as much as anything else, was keen to see a general improvement in humanity – whether through more universal access to learning (he set up the first subscription library and was instrumental in forming the first university in Pennsylvania) or in finding ways to ensure the streets are kept clean and well lit. In a world so much defined by Galbraith’s memorable phrase about our being prepared to accept personal affluence set amidst public squalor, we can look back in wonder at the civic conscious people of the past.There is something ‘homespun’ in the wisdom contained here, but the writing is always beautifully clear and this book does make you wish he had dedicated more time to telling more of his life – even the parts on his experiments with electricity are skimmed over in ways that leave you wishing for much, much more.

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