The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes

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Simon and Schuster, Nov 1, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 160 pages
1 Review
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.

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THE DEVIL'S DETAILS: A History of the Footnote

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A wonderful little treasure of learning, lightness, and literary history, journalist Zerby's first outing tracks the footnote through time.Indefatigably—and effortlessly—charming, the author puts ... Read full review

The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Beyond their basic function as a source of information and reference at the bottom of a page, can footnotes be a source of excitement, delight, and surprise? Maybe not in the eyes of most, especially ... Read full review


The Endangered Footnote
The Early Years
3 A Poetic Interlude
4 The Years of Discipline
5 The Illusion of Empire
A Poetic Interlude II
Toward the Virtual Footnote

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About the author (2007)

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.

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