Monday, May 02, 2005

Not a Biggie

Allusions and the Appositive Phrase

Not a big thing to have an aneurism over, but let's refer to the Great Barzun and his quibble over the Appositive Phrase, as in:

Achilles, the Greek hero
Oh yeah, Mr. Writer, thanks for clearing that up.
Now one is tempted to rant about the dearth of cultural literacy where a reporter feels the need to clear up just which Achilles he is writing about for the public (Whew! I thought he meant Moe Achilles, the famed hat blocker from Maxwell Street). But really, cultural literacy is a constant and you can Google till the cows do whatever cows do nowadays (in the huge corporate farms they never leave the barn, so you cannot say they "come home" anymore) on how students are just as ignorant on culture and politics now as they were in the 1950's. And if one wants to play the game of obscure allusions there is always John Leonard, or vox populi, Richard Lewis to use as touchstones. And there is Brewer's classic reference work on Phrase and Fable if one really wants to hunt out the more obscure allusions.
By the way, is this true? Is the term the hoi polloi redundant, as hoi means the? Any British poet raised on Greek please write me.

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