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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Jane Chord

posted by on May 6 at 15:13 PM

Over on his blog, Terry Teachout (theater critic for the Wall Street Journal) reminded me about the Jane Chord:

The Jane Chord, to which Bill Buckley introduced us years ago, is a concept originally promulgated by Hugh Kenner. The idea is that if you make a two-word sentence out of the first and last words of a book, it will tell you something revealing about the book in question. Or not: the Jane Chord of Pride and Prejudice is It/them. But every once in a while you run across a Jane Chord so resonant that it makes the room shiver—the chord for Death Comes for the Archbishop is One/built—and even when a famous book yields up nonsense, it’s still a good game to play.

Miranda July noticed her own Jane Chord for No One Belongs Here More than You here.

Some Jane Chords in books on shelves and desks around the office:

On God by Norman Mailer: Scientists experience.

Atonement by Ian McEwan: The sleep.

Passage to Juneau by Jonathan Raban: He sea.

Please Feed Me: A Punk Vegan Cookbook: We delicious.

Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown: I mourned.

United States: Essays 19521992 by Gore Vidal: I sanity.

Brothels of Nevada [a photo book]: Visits imperative.

And Democracy in America by Tocqueville: Among misery.

RSS icon Comments


"Brothels of Nevada [a photo book]: Visits imperative."


Posted by boxofbirds | May 6, 2008 3:23 PM

I like this very much.

Posted by Aislinn | May 6, 2008 3:23 PM


Posted by Mr. Poe | May 6, 2008 3:36 PM

Willa Cather sucks.

Posted by Abby | May 6, 2008 3:42 PM

Now I see why all the Literature BA's work at Starbucks or Victrola ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 3:55 PM

I think the "It/Them" Jane Chord of Pride & Prejudice works quite well. The book chronicles shallow people doing almost nothing in places that cannot be named. Sounds like the world of common nouns and no verbs to me.

And has there ever been a more annoying literary convention/device than the "______shire" crap in P&P? If you can't use the real name, make one up! Makes the story very hard to read, as there are no proper nouns to which a reader can anchor themselves. Not that there is anything happening anyhow....

Posted by Sir Vic | May 6, 2008 4:02 PM

Despair by Vladimir Nabokov: If now.

I need a more interesting game.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 4:38 PM

I'm stuck at work, so...

Perl in a Nutshell: Computer stream.

Posted by elenchos | May 6, 2008 4:42 PM

Cases and Materials on Employment Discrimination, Sixth Edition, by Zimmer, Sullivan, and White

This/injuction. Back to studying.

Posted by jake | May 6, 2008 4:42 PM

War and Peace
Eh concious

Posted by vooodooo84 | May 6, 2008 4:52 PM

Steven e. Ambrose D-Day
At Slaves.

Posted by vooodooo84 | May 6, 2008 4:55 PM


Posted by Mother | May 6, 2008 5:17 PM


Posted by Mother | May 6, 2008 5:18 PM

City of Dreaming Books:

This ends.

Posted by PopTart | May 6, 2008 5:45 PM

Is Finnegans Wake disqualified?

Posted by kid icarus | May 6, 2008 5:54 PM

John Knowles' A Separate Peace I enemy

The Catcher in the Rye If everybody

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | May 6, 2008 7:03 PM

Joseph Conrad; The Heart of Darkness: The darkness.

E.M. Forester; A Room With a View: The Mediterranean.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | May 6, 2008 8:37 PM

I like to on computer games, my best wii games: Guitar star 3 and what here you?

Posted by dudiordensess | May 7, 2008 2:56 AM

"Red Harvest" by Dashiell Hammett:

"I / hell".

Posted by --MC | May 7, 2008 7:34 AM

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