The Pleasure of Perfectly Positioned Punctuation


As conscientious writers know, punctuation can make all the difference in a sentence, sculpting mush into meaning or cluing the reader in to nuances of intonation.

Vulture’s Kathryn Schulz has compiled some of literature’s most effective and memorable instances of punctuation, from Nabokov’s parenthetical “(picnic, lightning)” to the ellipses in T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

She concedes, however, that the most famous ellipses of all occur not in a book but in “in the text crawl at the beginning of Star Wars (‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …’).”

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →