Adjectivitis

For a while there, I tried to be averse to adverbs. "The road to hell is paved with adverbs" froths Stephen, the King of impressively pared and pacey prose. "I am dead to adverbs; they cannot excite me" concurred Mark Twain, whose writing has an admirably savage and robust elegance that disdains such semantic furbelows.

You can certainly take your pick of august authors eager to denounce the deadly modifiers. "[Whoever writes in English] is struggling against vagueness, against obscurity, against the lure of the decorative adjective": Orwell. "[I was taught] to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations”: Hemingway. “Adjectives are frequently the greatest enemy of the substantive”: Voltaire. These po-faced proclamations may in fact argue the case for a blithesome bit of embellishment, but I cannot deny their skill; and then recently Alexander McCall Smith penned a quietly persuasive piece  of anti-adverbery for the Wall Street Journal that tipped me into a freefall of fandagle shame.

Right, I thought. Enough. I find it relatively easy to resist an adjective , trusting that things can inherently convey their own thinginess, but I'm a sucker for adverbs; they do help convey the the myriad subtle glosses those slippery creatures, people, bestow on action and word. Nonetheless, I donned a straw hat, frowning flourished my semantic shears, and pruned: the gentlys and the sharplys, the sweetlys and the softlys, the eagerlys and the casuallys toppling before my ascetic wrath. Then I sat back, shook myself a mojito and sternly sipped it in a wicker chair, feeling clean.

But then this morning I walked to the bus with the audiobook of The Fry Chronicles pouring mellifluously into my ears; and I remembered that loving words for the sake of words is not always bad; that prolixity can be a choice, not an ignorance; and that I really, really admired any man who combined in one sentence the words 'comeuppance' and 'sucking come.'

So I stopped reading about other writers on the internet, and wrote.