This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Introductions: a rant.

Introductions to novels, eh? 

Yes, that's right, the bit at the front which gives away the plot.

Good grief, most of the time introductions don't even have the SPOILER ALERT notice you get in on-line writing.

(Hey, how about that? An example of modern on-line manners that are more truly polite and intelligently considerate than your conventional ivory-tower academic stuff.)

An introduction to a book is, infuriatingly, usually more of a life-story than an introduction. Read the introduction before you read the book and you will find out that Daphne is doomed and that Dodi did it; that the mysterious visitor on page 56 stays mysterious; and that the carefully constructed revelation of eternal truth that the novel invites us to contemplate can be summarised in six ugly words.

I accept that it would be odd to put an introduction at the end of a book, but this is only because the thing has been given a silly name. Why not split introductions into two parts: firstly, a genuine introduction which consists of information that readers need to know before they start reading; and, secondly, an afterword which discusses what the book was all about.

That's surely simple enough.

So why on earth - why on earth -  don't people flipping do it?

Word To Use Today: introduction. This word came to English in the 1500s from the Latin word intrōdūcere, to bring inside, from intrō, which means towards the inside, plus dūcere, to lead.

1 comment:

  1. Couldn't agree more! Persephone books often have an afterword which shows how civilised they are. But in this house we ALWAYS read introductions at the end of the book....