She wouldn't get away with it today!

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Paul Whybrow

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Jun 20, 2015
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Cornwall, UK
We’ve previously discussed the semicolon in a couple of threads:

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/in-praise-of-the-semicolon.3830/

https://colony.litopia.com/threads/semicolons-in-dialogue.6105/

Today, while reading A Biography of Loneliness, by Fay Bound Alberti, I found a quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary which she’d used as a chapter epigraph:

I have entered into a sanctuary; a nunnery; had a religious retreat; of great agony once; and always some terror; so afraid one is of loneliness; of seeing to the bottom of the vessel. That is one of the experiences I have had here in some Augusts; and got then to a consciousness of what I call ‘reality’: a thing I see before me: something abstract; but residing in the downs or the sky; beside which nothing matters; in which I shall rest and continue to exist.”

That’s a plethora of semicolons!

I felt bold when I once used two semicolons in a sentence.

Do you think she’d get away with it today?

Wouldn’t a 21st-century editor wield their red pen?

iu
 
After that the rumours of the gossip writers had started. Soldier Island had really been bought by Miss Gabrielle Turl, the Hollywood film star! She wanted to spend some months there free from all publicity! Busy Bee had hinted delicately that it was to be an abode for Royalty??! Mr Merryweather had had it whispered to him that it had been bought for a honeymoon—Young Lord L— had surrendered to Cupid at last! Jonas knew for a fact that it had been purchased by the Admiralty with a view to carrying out some very hush-hush experiments! Definitely, Soldier Island was news!

Christie, Agatha. And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie Collection) (pp. 1-2). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

I found that on the first page of this, only with exclamation marks. I persevered a few more pages but they became too distracting and I couldn't concentrate on the story. I gave up. Would they get away with it today? No.
 
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