What a little gem! Oops! You’re not …One isn’t …I’m not … Es ist verboten to use too many exclamation marks!

And I’ve just broken Jo’s first commandment.


1. Do not use foreign words.


Talking about style, Jo has this to say about Macaulay, Addison and Goldsmith

These writers have stood the test of time and there has been no improvement upon them yet, nor is there likely to be, for their writing is as perfect as it is possible to be in the English language

There is a lot of similar pontification in the book, but to be fair to Jo, he was writing at the beginning of the 20th Century, and so seems very dated to my 21st Century eyes. Nowadays we accept that we speak and act differently in different situations, and what is appropriate in one is not appropriate in another.

But then he starts to point out failings in people like Dickens. Oh dear, the naughty man is guilty of tautology.

Miss Fox was (often) in the habit of assuring Mrs Chick.

However, the last sections of the book are very animated, and Our Jo is passionate in encouraging everyone (well, maybe not women) to write, assuring his readers that they CAN succeed. He quotes various authors who had no education but who wrote great literature,

while some of our college men are dead-heads, drones, parasites on the body social’, etc. etc.

Anyway, Jo redeems himself completely by the following advice –

Study Nature’s rules and tenses, for they are vastly more important than those of grammar

Because of this sentence I forgive him his proscriptive way of writing.

But …

I’ve just started reading The Complaints, by Ian Rankin. I love his straight-forward style and am already immersed in the story.



I’ve already noticed two sentences where Rankin has used the accusative ‘him’ instead of ‘he’ with the verb ‘to be’. Oh dear, I think Jo has turned me in to one of the dreaded Grammar Police. 😉



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