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The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes


The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Footnotes have not had it easy. Their dominance of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century literature and scholarship was both hard-won — following many years of struggle — and doomed, as it led to belittlement in the twentieth century. In The Devil's Details, Chuck Zerby playfully explores footnotes' long and illustrious history and makes a clarion call to save them from the new world of the Internet and hypertext.

In a story that boasts a marvelous plot and a rogues' gallery of players, Zerby examines traditional footnotes and their less-buttoned-down incarnations, as when used by pornographers. Yes, The Devil's Details is full of surprises: Zerby hunts down the first bona fide fully functioning footnote; unearths a multivolume history of Northumberland County, England, that uses one volume for a single footnote; and uncovers a murder plot. He even explains why footnotes are like blind dates.

Carefully researched and highly opinionated, The Devil's Details affirms that delight in reading can come from unexpected places.

About the Author

Chuck Zerby developed The Devil's Details from an article he published in The New York Times. A former columnist for the Amherst Record, Zerby lives in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents



1. The Endangered Footnote

2. The Early Years

3. A Poetic Interlude

4. The Years of Discipline

5. The Illusion of Empire

6. A Poetic Interlude II

7. Toward the Virtual Footnote

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Ádám Bogár, March 29, 2012 (view all comments by Ádám Bogár)
A brilliant writer, a brilliant case - and there you go. Zerby certainly takes (foot)note of the pervasiveness and useful nature of the footnote as a phenomenon, what really turns his work into one of utmost importance for literally any reader is however that it attempts to - and successfully does - consider footnotes as esthetic objects, while never ceasing to be a classic humorous page-turner. He sees footnotes as sources of beauty, of "pathos," and raises his voice against the tendency to restrict the amount of footnotes (in his view, of esthetic experiences met with while reading) to the minimum. A strongly suggested reading for journal editors and university professors!
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Product Details

Zerby, Chuck
Touchstone Books
New York
Editing & Proofreading
Bibliographical citations
General Humor
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Bibliographical citations -- History.
Edition Number:
1st Touchstone ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.44 x 5.5 in 7.455 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General
Reference » Editing

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Product details 160 pages Touchstone Books - English 9780743241755 Reviews:
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