Monday, 6 July 2015

Fowler bags Partridge

What about this:

By the time of his death—he fell from a fifth-floor window in a Prague hospital, apparently trying to feed the birds—Hrabal was one of the world’s most famous Czech writers and the author of nearly fifty books
(Lit Hub intro.:

We understand what he’s saying of course but the general flaccidity is not helped by the consideration that there can only be one most famous. Similarly Hrabal could be the best known Czech writer but not ‘one of the best known’. The usage “one of the world’s most famous Czech writers” brings forward the mistaken idea that ‘Czech’ is a genre like ‘science fiction’ or ‘historical fiction’.

By the time of his death the Czech writer Hrabal was very well known outside his own country. He fell from the fifth floor of a Prague hospital attempting to feed birds outside his window. It is not known if his last words were ‘little sisters'.

Then the business of ‘nearly 50 books’. Fifty in itself is not a huge number. If you said forty eight or forty seven that would be fine if in fact the number is known for sure. Perhaps one of the books is incomplete. It’s not that either, but the awesomeness of 50, the wow of fifty which 48 doesn’t have. It would be a puzzle if you wrote ‘nearly forty eight’. Why?

If you know please tell me, don’t keep it to yourself.

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