Sunday, March 6, 2016

Adverbs make me suspicious

Grading essay exams on American realism. Some decent ones, some less than decent ones. Drudgery, nevertheless.

Adverbs always make me suspicious in literary analysis. When an essay begins almost immediately with a line like, "in the story, the author vividly describes," I immediately assume you have nothing to say.

After all, why are you padding this out already? I know the "vividness" of Stephen Crane's prose is not going to have anything to do with the remaining essay, nor could you easily define the difference between vivid and non-vivid prose in any case, nor would you have a purpose in doing so.

Maybe the rest of the essay will turn out fine. We'll see.

I'm just saying that it makes me immediately wary of the quality of what will follow.

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