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“Mailer Likes That Dangling Participle in His New Novel.” Article by unidentified writer. (Illinois) State Journal-Register, 26 October, 2. After quoting the first sentence of Harlot’s Ghost (91.26), this article gives Mailer’s faxed response to criticism of it in a 25 October Associated Press story in the paper. The sentence reads: “On a late winter evening in 1983, while driving through fog along the Maine coast, recollections of old campfires began to drift into the March mist, and I thought of the Algonquin tribe who dwelt near Bangor a thousand years ago.” In reply, Mailer says:
|“||Let’s not put the blame on the copy editor. The dangling modifier in the first sentence of Harlot’s Ghost was my decision, repeated several times over several months, to keep the sentence intact. I like the rhythm as it stands. I could not find a better one by fixing the sentence grammatically. For that matter, the meaning is clear. We often live in recollections while driving a car; it can even seem as if the recollections are steering the vehicle. Dangling participles can offend a few readers intensely, but the damage caused might add up to less than the rupture occasioned by straightening out the grammar and wrecking the mood. I hope I learned a long time ago from Melville, Mark Twain, and Faulkner, among others, that syntax is what you obey until there is some better reason to ignore it. Future editions will appear with the sentence unchanged.||”|
Grammarians may legitimately disagree on whether this is a bonafide dangling participle.