A HANDBOOK FOR SCHOLARS by Mary-Claire van Leumen


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This civilized guide to citing sources, handling quotations, and other niceties of scholarly writing is to the ordinary manual of style what M.F.K. Fisher is to the everyday cookbook. Mary-Claire van Leunen is a bonny young woman (per the jacket photo) who has been (per the jacket copy) editor of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin and technical editor in the Department of Computer Sciences at Yale--none of which seems immaterial. Introducing her chief reform, abolishing bibliographic footnotes by embedding citations in the text, she observes: ""The new style is not just a tidying device. It is meant also to nudge the scholar toward making his writing more concrete and vivid."" As appropriate, Nimble Scholar might be nudged from ""One student of the subject identifies forms by syntax rather than morphology"" to ""F.R. Palmer, writing in the distinguished Miami linguistic series [28], quite sensibly calls 'better' a verb in the spoken sentence 'You better go.'"" Not that van Leunen wants to add heft to the text: advising against overcaution (under ""Scholarly Peculiarities""), she writes; ""doubling and tripling up on qualifications gives your writing the texture of an unmolded custard, soft and runny at the edges."" In the same pithy and punctilious fashion, she covers the intricacies of compiling and recording references; readying copy for the printer; preparing an academic vita; and dealing with federal documents. Apropos of the difficulty of citing government documents vs. the ease of citing the Constitution, she concludes: ""I can't help feeling that there's something significant about the contrast."" Obviously a labor of scholarly love and exasperation.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Knopf