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The Grammarians

The Grammarians

"I'ntimacy/I'ntimate. n. Cloʃe familiarity; One who is truʃted with our thoughts.

This was a delight to read. A charming story of duality and intimacy, a pair of eccentric twins are drawn together and pushed apart by their slavish devotion to language. Where Daphne is mesmerized by the sacred, immutable set of grammatical rules that organize our communication, Laurel is drawn to language as a living entity, permeating communities and mirroring their real experiences. Complicating their relationship further is the growing distance that emerges between them as they age and begin families of their own. They struggle to maintain the intimacy that comes with twinship while defining themselves as separate entities—something they both want in unequal degrees."

Melissa S.

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Author Cathleen Schine
Publisher Sarah Crichton Books
Publication Date 2019-09-03
Section New Hardcover - Fiction / All Staff Suggestions / Fiction Suggestions / Melissa S.
Type New
Format
ISBN 9780374280116

BO/OKISH. a. [from book.] Given to books. —A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson Cathleen Schine's The Grammarians tells the story of Daphne and Laurel, word-obsessed twins bound together by their shared obsession, and also torn apart by it. One grows up to become a well-known language columnist, while the other becomes a poet—each poem an unlikely sampling of lines from a 1940s linguistics manual. Their once-united enthusiasm for words ruptures, and the twins find themselves divided by the long-standing descriptivist/prescriptivist debate about language. Daphne, the columnist, is devoted to preserving the dignity and formal elegance of traditional language; Laurel, the poet, is thrilled by the living, changing nature of English. The girls are infatuated with the beauty, mischief, and occasional treachery of language. Every chapter opens with a definition from Samuel Johnson’s dictionary; there are sibling battles over Fowler's; and the twinship finally explodes when the sisters battle, with fiery absurdity, for custody of their deceased father’s copy of Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition. In their debates about language, alternately playful and fervent, Daphne and Laurel come to define themselves, too. The Grammarians is not only a story of the delights and tolls of intimacy; it is also a celebration of the unity, and joyful comedy, of language and life.

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