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Old 08-31-2013, 05:15 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by Lemurion View Post
I personally think there's a difference between using a technique to evoke an effect, and using a technique so the reader can see that you're using the technique. I'll agree that good literary fiction is concerned with far more than simply plot and telling a story; but I'll also argue that the good writers don't write so that the readers pay attention to their technique.

Cormac McCarthy does the former, but he's also good enough to pull it off.
I agree there is a difference between using a literary or typographical device to evoke an effect, and using such a device for some other reason. I just don't know that I have sufficient access to a writer's intentions to be able to make such a definitive judgement about what they intend, and so I am am not sure that speculation about their intention can play a proper role in forming judgements about the value of their work.

I also agree that reading Cormac McCarthy one can experience effects that go beyond, what one might call for want of a better phrase, the content of the story, and that these often result from the stylistic devices that he uses, and that he is masterful in his use of such devices; but even then, I am still not sure what his intentions might be, or how much is can or does affect my judgement.
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Old 08-31-2013, 10:42 AM   #62
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I've been reading Flann O'Brien's novels. His first, At Swim Two-Birds, 1939, had no quotation clues at all, but I got used to it. The next one I read The Dalkey Archive (1964) used the dash, or rather em dash, at the beginning of dialogue, and for some reason I found this very confusing. His last novel, The Third Policeman, although written around 1940, was published posthumously in 1968 and used conventional quotes, quite likely an editorial decision.

They are all very Irish novels.

Brian O'Nolan, Flann O'Brien's real name, was a native Gaelic speaker, learned English as a second language in childhood. He was best known under the name Myles na gCopaleen, writing the "Cruiskeen Lawn" column in the Irish Times for 30-odd years.

I prefer quotation marks. If you are writing with a lot of dialogue, it seems to me, you really do have to make an effort to let the reader in on the secret of what's dialogue and what's not.

I think it's a traditional thing, too. I have in front of me a Hercule Poirot novel, Italian translation, which starts off a chapter like this: (I am using two hyphens to represent the em-dash):

--Non avete cavato molto da quella signora Ramsay --si lamento il colonnello Beck.
--Non c'era molto da cavare, in vertia.
--Ne siete sicuro?

I don't know how to insert the diacriticals. At any rate, the dash is still conventional in Italian, or was in 1984 when the translation was published in Italy ("Sfida a Poirot", aka "The Clocks")
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Old 08-31-2013, 12:25 PM   #63
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One thing I'm curious about: In these novels without quotation marks, would it be possible to go through and insert the quotes (if you were that way inclined)? Or is the text somehow written so that it wouldn't make sense to do so?

If it would be possible to insert quotation marks then what exactly is the literary advantage of leaving them off?
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:47 PM   #64
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If it would be possible to insert quotation marks then what exactly is the literary advantage of leaving them off?
I think it might be a mistake to assume there need be any kind of advantage (literary or otherwise) in leaving them off.
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Old 08-31-2013, 04:10 PM   #65
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- I've read some books that used dashes instead of punctuation - she says - I never really understood why an author would do that. Perhaps they feel ordinary punctuation is beneath them? I personally find it distracting. -
To me, dashes (-) are way to indicate thoughts in the same way that quotation marks can be used to denote speech. I don't find either distracting as long as they are used consistently. Inconsistent usage is distracting.

In a related note, a recent change in comics I've noticed is the use of color-coded boxes to indicate when a character is speaking when he/she is not seen or when the character is thinking. The use of the old-fashioned "bubble balloons" to indicate what a character is thinking are less used.

In one scene in the miniseries "Identity Crisis," there are five characters speaking and none of them appear on page, yet the color coding of the text boxes clearly indicate who is speaking (example: Green Arrow's boxes are all white text in a green box, while Elongated Man's are black text in a orange box). Throughout the miniseries the same convention is followed, including color coding for scene changes and the narrator's comments. It improves the readability of the issue was not interfering with the artwork.
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Old 08-31-2013, 05:31 PM   #66
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From as early as I could read, proper quotation marks has always been a part of even children's books. And the rule about not closing the quote at the end of a paragraph when the same speaker continues has always been part of those rules that you just get used to from the beginning.

For those of us who started out reading books using the proper rules (at least in the US), we're probably the ones very intolerant of missing quotes and the proper way closing quotes should be used for the same speaker. Even newspaper articles use the same quote rules. When I'm reading a book, it's one of the things I'll bookmark and go back and fix the correct way.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:43 PM   #67
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I've read cheap genre novels without punctuation marks and I doubt that high art was the reason they were left out.

It doesn't really bother me after a few pages if the pages are well formatted with proper paragraphs and a clear layout, which is something they sometimes lose when converting books to a digital format.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:48 PM   #68
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People are particular about punctuation which is one reason the publishers don't just take a book published in the UK and use the same manuscript for the US version. The spelling and punctuation rules are different, i.e. the rule for nested quotes.
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:03 AM   #69
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Not using quotation marks is either laziness or pretentiousness on the part of the author, IMO. If they can't be bothered to delineate the dialog, then I can't be bothered to buy their book.
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Old 09-01-2013, 04:52 AM   #70
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People are particular about punctuation which is one reason the publishers don't just take a book published in the UK and use the same manuscript for the US version. The spelling and punctuation rules are different, i.e. the rule for nested quotes.
As particular as I am about having punctuation (and spelling) correct, I actually prefer it if publishers would leave books alone as originally written either in the UK or US and not do a different book. I can adapt to the UK's punctuation and spelling, that doesn't bother me at all, I realize it will be different and I actually enjoy knowing the differences.

But what I find even more annoying is when they also insist on giving the book a different title between the US and UK, so you think there's 2 books by a favorite author you waste time hunting down, only to find out they're one and the same. That just drives me nuts :P. The differences aren't that great that we won't understand the books from the other side of the pond or even choose not to buy them because they aren't published for US or UK.
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Old 09-01-2013, 06:38 AM   #71
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Which presupposes the "substance" is what you think it is.

There is often more to literary fiction than telling a story. If you don't get that, that's OK, but it doesn't really warrant you, or anyone else, rubbishing a piece of work because it rubs up against your expectations.

The reader is the ultimate judge of the author, not the other way around, let's not forget. It's the reader who does indeed get to rubbish a piece of work that doesn't work for them. If a book doesn't live up to my expectations, I do get to rubbish it. That's why there are reviews, and why "word of mouth" works as it does. Because it's readers who get to say if a book is great, or good, or dreadful--not the book's creator. If it were the latter, every book on Amazon would be a best-seller; and we all know that they certainly are not.

If a piece of literary fiction has "more to it" than mere storytelling, it's the job of the author to make it available to the reader in some form or fashion. If the reader doesn't "get it," then the author didn't do his job, because he didn't leave it on the page.

The idea that readers are "too stupid to get" something, and therefore, are not entitled to an opinion, is the fiction. Readers are the consumers, the audience, the applauders, the boo-ers, and the ultimate Deciders. If one reader doesn't get it? Then that's likely true--that person "doesn't get it." If most don't, then the author quite simply did not do their job. It's as straightforward as that.

And, to get back OT: I see a lot of "experimental fiction" coming through our doors--with and without quotation marks. With dialogue paragraphs flush-left, and narrative indented (yes, in the same book). With no dialogue TAGS, never mind quotation marks, so you never know who's speaking. Thus far, I have yet to see one I found readable, much less innovative and note-worthy.

The lack of quotation marks, or some reasonable method of inferring dialogue, irritates me to no end and yes, goes on my metaphysical "annoyed the snot out of me" shelf. Yes, McCarthy did it successfully, but like first-person present tense, it's incredibly hard to pull off, and I think that there are exceedingly few authors who should even attempt it. {shrug}. That's my $.02. I'm with Xanthe; if they don't care enough about their dialogue to make it reasonably find-able, I can't find the change in my pocket to buy the book.

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Old 09-01-2013, 11:12 AM   #72
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I believe the use of quotation marks must be a language issue. I've just checked several of my books in French, and almost all of them use dashes and not quotation marks to denote spoken dialogue.
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Old 09-01-2013, 11:22 AM   #73
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Not using quotation marks is either laziness or pretentiousness on the part of the author, IMO. If they can't be bothered to delineate the dialog, then I can't be bothered to buy their book.
Each person is entitled to their own likes and dislikes but I prefer to save my heavy criticism for the writing itself, rather than any superficial artifice that might be used.
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:21 PM   #74
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As particular as I am about having punctuation (and spelling) correct, I actually prefer it if publishers would leave books alone as originally written either in the UK or US and not do a different book. I can adapt to the UK's punctuation and spelling, that doesn't bother me at all, I realize it will be different and I actually enjoy knowing the differences
Agreed. I avoid UK books 'translated' for American readers, preferring to search out the originals. It's a pet peeve, actually. I want the flavour () and feel of the setting.
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Old 09-01-2013, 12:27 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Hitch View Post
The reader is the ultimate judge of the author, not the other way around, let's not forget. It's the reader who does indeed get to rubbish a piece of work that doesn't work for them. If a book doesn't live up to my expectations, I do get to rubbish it. That's why there are reviews, and why "word of mouth" works as it does. Because it's readers who get to say if a book is great, or good, or dreadful--not the book's creator. If it were the latter, every book on Amazon would be a best-seller; and we all know that they certainly are not.

If a piece of literary fiction has "more to it" than mere storytelling, it's the job of the author to make it available to the reader in some form or fashion. If the reader doesn't "get it," then the author didn't do his job, because he didn't leave it on the page.

The idea that readers are "too stupid to get" something, and therefore, are not entitled to an opinion, is the fiction. Readers are the consumers, the audience, the applauders, the boo-ers, and the ultimate Deciders. If one reader doesn't get it? Then that's likely true--that person "doesn't get it." If most don't, then the author quite simply did not do their job. It's as straightforward as that.

And, to get back OT: I see a lot of "experimental fiction" coming through our doors--with and without quotation marks. With dialogue paragraphs flush-left, and narrative indented (yes, in the same book). With no dialogue TAGS, never mind quotation marks, so you never know who's speaking. Thus far, I have yet to see one I found readable, much less innovative and note-worthy.

The lack of quotation marks, or some reasonable method of inferring dialogue, irritates me to no end and yes, goes on my metaphysical "annoyed the snot out of me" shelf. Yes, McCarthy did it successfully, but like first-person present tense, it's incredibly hard to pull off, and I think that there are exceedingly few authors who should even attempt it. {shrug}. That's my $.02. I'm with Xanthe; if they don't care enough about their dialogue to make it reasonably find-able, I can't find the change in my pocket to buy the book.
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This is a jekyl and hyde post. The second half is a legitimate and pertinent critique of the effect of ommitting quotation marks in experimental fiction. The first half is a trite harangue that completely misses the point of the poster it was addressed to.

Here is what TGS wrote
Quote:
There is often more to literary fiction than telling a story. If you don't get that, that's OK, but it doesn't really warrant you, or anyone else, rubbishing a piece of work because it rubs up against your expectations.
To paraphrase, you shouldn't judge a work if you falsely expect something to be what it is not.

If you pick up a romance novel expecting it to be a thriller, the work doesn't warrant your judgement based on your faulty expectations.

Just as i wouldn't call a physics dissertation a bad work because it doesn't tell a rip-roaring story.

Or call a horse defective because it doesn't do algebra.

A thing should be judged on the basis of what it is. Many people pick up literary fiction expecting a conventional story with conventional language and grammar. Then they rubbish the work based on those expectations and criteria.

To repeat TGS's points, literary fiction often experiments with form to see what effect that has on meaning and experience. As we see on this thread, to many posters think a work is ipso facto "pretentious" if it doesn't focus exclusively on the story, as if conventional format was handed down by god as the perfect means of expression for all meaning and experience.

To add a point of my own, literary fiction also tries to get us to think about how and why we use language and grammar. The fact that we are here discussing the effects of ommitting quotation marks means that those works have succeeded, even if you don't like them. In other words, literary fiction doesn't have to likeable to be effective. Indeed, it is often most effective when it is not likeable. The market-place standard is not the only legitimate standard.

If you don't like literary fiction that's fine. But there is a difference between saying something like "i don't like horses" and saying "that is a defective horse because it doesn't do algebra." The former is a personal preference, which are always valid, although not always legal or moral. The latter is a silly, incongruous judgement, which is what many do with literary fiction.

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