In Gambit, Rex Stout’s 1962 mystery novel, the quirky and housebound detective Nero Wolfe sits before a fireplace on a too-small chair, “tearing sheets out of a book and burning them. The book is the new edition, the third edition, of Webster’s New International Dictionary, Unabridged.” Why? “He considers it subversive because it threatens the integrity of the English language.” Able to cite “a thousand examples of its crimes,” including using infer and imply interchangeably, the detective calls it “a deliberate attempt to murder” the language.Read more
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