Sunday, May 21, 2006

Sourcein' in Style...

I just finished Andrew Delbanco's recent book on Herman Melville, a clearly written, almost meditative take on the man, his work, and his time. I come from where Melville wrote Moby-Dick, and my parents and brother now lives beneath Mount Greylock, the peak the author gazed upon from his study window at Arrowhead, likening it in winter to the snow-white whale.

That aside, what contributed to my delight in reading the book was in no small part how Delbanco did his sources. As one weary of the cluttered disfigurements of APA and Chicago author-date, or the tedious and equally cluttered numbering of foot or end notes in Chicago, I appreciated that Delbanco merely cites page numbers in the back, with a word or two to identify the quote on that page, and then a source. I enjoyed just reading these notes, more than I would end notes in a conventional scholarly work, as the words quoted called up for me that particular passage. The text itself read cleanly, without the jerkiness due to source documentation.

Update, 6/4: In rereading Paul Woodruff's elegant little gem, Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue (Oxford UP 2001), I noticed Woodruff uses a similar, non-invasive, source format. Maybe there is a name for this citation style?...and Matthew Stewart's The Courtier and the Heretic uses it too...

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