I have met the enemy,and he is … Elmore

The latest from Wright’s Writing Corner


I must say,  I agree with the sentiments of the lovely and talented Mrs. Wright.

I was not even aware of this stupid "war on adverbs" that Mr. Elmore declared, since I do not solicit the opinions of others on my writing, nor do I take kindly to the red pencil of the editor when the matter is one of style rather than grammar. The insolence of simply decreeing that what was formerly a matter of style (that is, a matter of artistic judgment and personal taste) is NOW a matter of grammar (that is, simply correct or incorrect according to an objective and impartial authority) is not only breathtaking in its insolence, it is risible in its absurdity: how can one man trying to found a school of artistic taste declare himself, without any precedent, to be the objective authority? It is like seating the prosecuting attorney in the jury box as the foreman.

I suspect such sublime foolishness would not have taken place in a society with a healthy attitude toward metaphysics, and hence able to make a distinction between personal opinion and authoritative judgment. Moderns seem to lapse into the stance that all things outside of the findings of natural philosophy in the physical sciences are utterly arbitrary and without meaning: hence the Moderns cannot tell the difference between a school of style (which apply only to those within that school) and the conventions of genre (which apply to all seeking an audience within that genre) and the rules of grammar (which apply to all speakers of the language).