steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

Why do I even bother to read the TLS?

It always makes my blood boil, and this week I could have scorched a creme brulee using my nostrils alone.

First there was Hugo Williams's blimpish complaint in his Freelance column: "In order to avoid 'he' as a pronoun of common gender, some writers, including academics, have gone over to using 'she', a more obtrusive, less attractive word."

Now, whatever you think about the idea of common gender (no doubt everyone has their preferred solution), is "she" really a less attractive word than "he"? Really? And if Williams truly believes that, why, in his illustrative example of this barbarism, does he give a sentence that uses neither of these, but "her"? Answers on a brick, addressed to the TLS.

Elsewhere in the same issue, Adrian Tahourdin rightly celebrates the award of the Bernard Shaw translation prize to Thomas Teal for his work on Tove Jansson's Fair Play. Great - except that Tahourdin chooses to remind readers who Jansson is by telling them that "Tove Jansson will be known in this country for the charming novella The Summer Book." Now, I love The Summer Book, I really do, but this is a little like saying that "Shakespeare will be known to readers in this country for his narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece." Why couldn't Tahourdin bring himself to mention that Jansson is the author of some of the greatest works of twentieth century literature? Simple: because they were published for children, of course.
Tags: books, language
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