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The Devil's Details: A History of the Footnote [Hardcover]

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Item description for The Devil's Details: A History of the Footnote by Chuck Zerby...

This surprising history of the footnote starts with the assumption that footnotes are not solely the province of academics and bibliophiles. On the contrary, this book argues that footnotes can enchant and inform readers through tributes to people, characters, heroes, and lovers. Scholars have employed them, of course, but so have poets, novelists, memorialists, and pornographers. Written with clarity and erudition, this book presents the history of the first genuine footnote—an annotation in a 17th-century poem by England's first female poet—and other fascinating footnote tales, such as the discovery of a multivolume book that uses one entire volume for a single footnote and the use of footnotes to footnotes. This history pays tribute to the joy of reading footnotes and makes a compelling case that they are too important, too interesting, and too entertaining to be left to scholars.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2001
Publisher   Invisible Cities Press Llc
ISBN  1931229058  
ISBN13  9781931229050  

Availability  0 units.

More About Chuck Zerby

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Chuck Zerby developed "The Devil's Details" from an article he published in "The New York Times." A former columnist for the "Amherst Record, " Zerby lives in Hadley, Massachusetts.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Books & Reading > Reference
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > Semiotics
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > United States > History & Criticism > Literary Theory
6Books > Subjects > Reference > Foreign Languages > General
7Books > Subjects > Reference > Publishing & Books > Bibliographies & Indexes - By Subject > History
8Books > Subjects > Reference > Publishing & Books > Bibliographies & Indexes - By Subject > Literature
9Books > Subjects > Reference > Publishing & Books > Bibliographies & Indexes
10Books > Subjects > Reference > Words & Language > Linguistics

Reviews - What do customers think about The Devil's Details: A History of the Footnote?

My footnote to the 1-star review  Feb 25, 2003
Don't listen to the reviewer who purports to give Zerby 0 stars, that review isn't worth your while. Try this, instead: I'm trying to delve into the study of footnotes (non-scholarly). Grafton's work relies too heavily on scholarly use. Kevin Jackson's Invisible Forms only lends the footnote a chapter. So Zerby, as of now, is the happy medium. And yes, he rambles. Yes, the book weaves in and out of direction. But that's the point, and assuming you'd encounter otherwise is somewhat deluded. If you accept Zerby's offering for what it is, and roll with the punches the book provides, you might learn a thing or two about how the footnote has evolved (AND discover a few interesting original sources to peruse later)!
Trivial, oh so trivial  Jul 4, 2002
This is a zero star book. I read about half and then skimmed the rest because I couldn't take the torture and I read for enjoyment and education, not as a form of masochism. I picked this book up because I am an editor/writer and love the English language, including its more obscure aspects. This book, however, offers nothing of value. The basis for the book appears to be the author's one semi-bright idea: that there can be a kind of interplay between text and footnote, which some authors exploit to good effect. Unfortunately, Zerby does not fall into that category.

One needn't rack his or her brains for an appropriate and clever adjective to describe this book. It is simply stupid -- on every conceivable level. The scholarship on the beginnings of the footnote is suspect at best; the footnoting and comments on such are pompous and totally subjective; the ironic, "this is so trivial it must be amusing" tone is after a few pages damned irritating; and the author engages in an orgy of name dropping and jumps from one subject to another to make himself sound erudite, when it is clear he doesn't know what the hell he is talking about -- how does a book like this get published?

As for those people who report to have enjoyed this pointless mush, fyi: readig a book that makes reference to obscure texts and a handful of name authors does not make you clever. Try reading a few of the originals instead.

book critic in love  Apr 25, 2002
You will laugh, you will cry, you will beg for more from this mercurial clown of literary criticism and history! For those of you who are refreshed by sets of ten point text at the bottom of your current volume, or for those who are wondering just what good are they. Timely, appropriate, and altogether brilliant. Charles Zerby, we love you and your precious, precious footnotes.
Superbly presented study on an important aspect of writing.  Mar 28, 2002
The Devil's Details: A History Of Footnotes is a carefully researched and superbly presented study of the footnote -- an editorial convention most often seen in academic texts yet fast becoming more widespread than ever, particularly in the world of the Internet where a "footnote" can in fact be a hyperlinked note. Fascinating and informative with its close attention to minute matters, The Devil's Details is an enjoyable and even slightly whimsical study of an oft-overlooked aspect of writing and recommended reading for anyone wanting to improve the professionalism of their writings in print or on the Internet.
A delightful read!  Mar 1, 2002
What a joy this book is. Funny, insightful, daring. Who is Chuck Zerby? Where in the world did he come from, and how did he learn so much? He does what no traditional scholar has been able to do--capture what is so rich and, yes, silly about getting caught up in minutiae about books, and reminding us bibliophiles why we love to read so much. Get this gorgeous little book for everyone you know who still appreciates the beauty of the word on the page.

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