Friday, January 12, 2007

Excellence: Enhanced

My online book club is discussing Charlotte's Web this month. I found the annotated version at the library. I've read this book again and again and have loved the language, story and illustrations. It's the kind of rare book that gets richer with every reading.

This version includes marginal notes on White's writing and revisions, on his beliefs on country life, on Garth William's collaboration and the notes between him and White on the illustrations. Neumeyer also points out when White breaks his own famed style rules (carefully to attain a certain effect).

One learns that White studied spiders for a year before writing the book, how Fern's character developed over several drafts and where the last sentence came from. Neumeyer points out what passages are especially suited to reading aloud, which helps the reader who isn't reading out loud to a child, but would appreciate that suggestion for that specific passage.

In addition Neumeyer includes addenda with White's drawing's of Zuckerman's farm, portions of important drafts, information on Garth Williams, diagrams of spider anatomy, correspondence with the publisher. All this adds to the reading and is of particular interest to anyone striving to write well.

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