Fragments

Another problem I have with Douglas Murray’s book is the writing. Maybe this doesn’t bother other people much but please understand that I grade a lot of essays. And one of the things that drives me nuts is the use of fragments. Here is an example:

As though the non-Western world is always made up of Edenic innocents.

This is not a complete sentence. This is a weird, chopped-off fragment. Once or twice, it wouldn’t be that bad but Murray does this all the time. Here are some examples:

A tendency to lump a disparate group of people under one umbrella.

Or:

Leading to claims that were ahistorical and just plain wrong.

Yes, that’s exactly how it appears in the text. So annoying. And it’s worse when the fragment is longish because you set yourself up for a meeting with a conjugated verb verb which never takes place:

In an effort to pretend that one of the richest traditions on earth is in fact deserving of nothing but destruction.

You expect to be told what happens in this “effort to pretend” but then the sentence simply ends. Or, look at this one:

Coming as it does not just from a purer and simpler place but also from a place unmolested by the system of cancellation that has afflicted absolutely everything else to date.

This quote starts on one page and ends on the next, and I had to go back to figure out what was wrong with the sentence.

When has it become normal to do this in serious non-fiction books and can somebody please make this stop?

7 thoughts on “Fragments

  1. “When has it become normal to do this in serious non-fiction books”

    I wonder if it’s a conscious effort to make books more like online texting… how long are the paragraphs?

    And, I love Murray as a speaker but does he actually write his books?

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    1. If he doesn’t, is he dictating and the person writing is putting periods in place of commas and other punctuation marks?

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  2. I don’t mind fragments in fiction; they certainly have their place, and, when done right, they can be quite effective. They can help set the pace or mood, or emphasize a character’s depth of emotion. But yes, they have no place in nonfiction (unless it’s creative nonfiction) or in technical writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In fiction it can play all sorts of great purposes. Sometimes it’s part of a distinctive authorial style. Fiction is fine. But in a long non-fiction book this makes for a choppy, unreadable writing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “in a long non-fiction book”

        I fragments are okay in non-fiction too when used very sparingly. If you notice them as a pattern… that’s too much (way too much).

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