Thursday, July 9, 2009

More research blogging.

So I've been rereading this scholarly book published a few years ago--or rather, reading beyond its introduction and first chapter, which I read some time ago, and which caused me to fling the book across the room in disgust. Then, I thought that it was a book of competent (if, to my work, irrelevant) scholarship written in really awkward prose. Really, such inelegant prose that it obscures some of the book's ideas. Now I've had to revisit the book, because half of it bears on what I'm doing, and I find that I'm absolutely infuriated by it. Because the scholar is actually making an interesting argument (though it's more and more clear, I'm happy to say, that the author only verges perilously close to my own argument on one page, and that may work in my favor as I demonstrate how he reaches all the wrong conclusions).* But he is making it in SUCH DEPLORABLE PROSE that I have to read without a pen so that I won't line-edit my library book. Seriously: sentences that are not only untangle-able but also ungrammatical. A pervasive lack of referential clarity. Reliance on the same 2 words throughout the book to do all the heavy argumentative lifting, even when their appropriateness to the point at hand requires much expansion. I wonder if the press had laid off its editorial staff when his book went through. On the (de)merits of this book alone, even though it's come to be, in its way, an influential book, I'd never submit to that press.

* Yes, I know I've identified the scholar by gender. It's all I can do not to name the book, and I would except that I'll have a book out there, with any luck, in a couple of years, and I'd rather not pre-cultivate scholarly enemies in this forum.


Moria said...

Trying to sleuth it out led me to a wonderful joke on Google's part. If you search Scholar for the poet's name, one of the principal sets of results includes speeches by and other material relating to George Herbert Walker Bush.

Something about that makes me happy.

Flavia said...

Dude, either I'm crazy or you are: the book *I* thought we were talking about IS said scholar's first book (of two).

But we're not reading the same book--and unless he's left a book off his faculty bio, he hasn't published a book with the press that your book apparently by him was apparently published by.