On Lists

Just read an essay about a new book out celebrating the list, Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists: An Illustrated Essay. It immediately made me wonder if Eco knows of E. B. White’s use of lists in his children’s books, one of his most delightful and (certainly to my students) recognizable stylistic tics. For example, here’s narrator White on Templeton in Charlotte’s Web:

The rat had no morals, no conscience, no scruples, no consideration, no decency, no milk of rodent kindness, no compunctions, no higher feeling, no friendliness, no anything.   (pg 46 of the Annotated Charlotte’s Web.)

And then there are the lists over at McSweeney’s.   In honor of this past week’s holiday they are currently featuring a  Cornucopia of Thanksgiving Lists, but they’ve got many, many, many more.  Some are lame, but some are pretty witty, say  Mundane DreamsLast Night’s Top Five Alphabet-Soup Spoonfuls, The Most Famous Haiku of All Time, or Great Books of the Twentieth Century, as Reviewed by My Boss.

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