Articles tagged ‘Longreads’

How Much Text Can You Handle? Line Length, Gutenberg, and Henry James

Line length is a major reason why easily available online transcriptions of Henry James’s major texts tend to overwhelm me. Click for a free full text, and you face a forbidding wall of words, as if it’s a curtain covering up some magical text lurking beneath it. Words crowd upon one another, and the your eyes slip and slide as you train your eyes on the same line all the way across the screen. We know that, grammatically, Jamesian sentences build up tension and dependent clauses until they threaten to collapse in on the sentence, but that’s no reason why the glyphs themselves should do so. To avoid this feeling of chaos and doom, I want to explore the line length appropriate for James full texts.

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