Monday, August 24, 2009

"The Gettysburg Address is not a pangram . . . "

Breaking news from the city desk at The American Stitcher: "The Gettysburg Address is Not a Pangram"

This makes me very happy.

What's a pangram? It's a sentence or piece of writing that uses all 26 letters of the alphabet. You know, like . . . "The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over A Lazy Dog."

In certain corners of the literary world, scorekeepers judge works based on their pangrammatic features. A reductio ad alphabetum . . . reducing prose to component letter features, rather than the literacy of the words themselves. I never bought the whole pangram thing, as good writing is remembered for reasons that transcend individual letters.

Pangrammatic sentences are useful for keyboard testers, but to extend it any further would be akin to checking whether Beethoven crammed all the tones of one key into the first stanza of his Fifth Symphony.

Scholars have challenged the story of Lincoln's last-minute preparation of the Address -- like the account of his jotting the Address on the back of an envelope during the train trip to Gettysburg. Rather, evidence suggests that Lincoln took his charge seriously (as was his practice) and prepared drafts of the Address well before his trip, knowing there would be little time to write the speech during his trip or upon his arrival in Pennsylvania.

Not surprising. Good writing -- especially good, terse writing like this 272-word Address -- evolves from numerous drafts which are honed and refined. Those characteristically-slim volumes of Strunk & White tell the story, short and sweet -- S&W practiced what they preached. It's easier to write longer than shorter. It reminds me of a quote from a correspondent/essayist whose name I can't remember: "I apologize for this long letter. If I had more time, it would have been shorter."

And so, kudos to great writing that is driven by carefully-chosen words and not individual letters.

Sampler update: The sampler is in the capable hands of our framing expert, and so I've enlisted other samplers as substitute models for the blog essays . . . like the one above which provides the pangrammatic alphabetic display. Pangrams are perfectly fine for samplers that feature alphabets. :)

Last week Lili asked about the logistics of framing a cross stitch design on linen. The linen is stretched over a piece of acid-free foam board, and then secured (laced) in the back almost corset-style, evenly stretching the fabric across the board. I'm searching for a good on-line tutorial to link to . . . it's an interesting process. I'll get back to you on that.

Talk to you soon . . have a good Monday eve! Cheers, friends!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the information! And I quite agree, good writing is not an extended form of sudoku.