Saturday, January 31, 2009

Triumph of the Vernacular

As I was reading Charles' entry on good old advertising practice, I could not help thinking of one of my very favorite pieces of writing and what Wright Morris called a 'triumph of the vernacular'.
This was authored by one of my writing gods, Mark Twain, not as any sort of literary enterprise, but as a letter of complaint to the Hartford Gas Company in about 1901.

Sirs,
Someday you will move me almost to the verge of irritation by your chuckle-headed Goddamned fashion of shutting your Goddamned gas off with giving any notice to your Goddamned parishioners.  Several time you have come within an ace of smothering half this household in their beds and blowing up the other half by this idiotic, not to say criminal, custom of yours.  And it has happened again today.  Haven't you a telephone?
Yrs
S.L. Clemens

I consider this a prime example of how a great writer composes with language like a great musician composes with music.

4 comments:

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

I LOVE Clemen's curmudgeonly sense of humor. Great quote, Donis

Donis Casey said...

I've noticed that the more curmudgeonly I get, the more I appreciate Twain.

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