jazz (not music)--1911?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 6 16:00:14 UTC 2011

On Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 4:31 AM, victor steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> http://goo.gl/cNpef
> Dick Merriwell's Commencement. Or, The Last Week at Yale. The Merriwell
> Series No. 200. By Burt L. Standish. 1911
> [inside back cover--Street & Smith advertising]
>> Read the Street & Smith Novels!
>> They are the cheapest and most interesting reading matter published in
>> America to-day. No jazz--no sex--just big, clean, interesting books.

There are at least three generations of Merriwells: Frank, his
half-brother Dick, and Frank's son, Frank Jr. There is a marked
difference between Frank and Dick. Frank usually handled challenges on
his own. Dick has mysterious friends and skills that help him,
especially an old Indian friend without whom the stories would not
have been quite as interesting.

I recall Frank Merriwell from radio days. I've never heard of either
Dick or Frank, Jr., before.

>> No _jazz_--no _sex_--just big, clean, interesting books.

Could this be an instance of _sex_ being used to explain _jazz_? There
were still people alve who used _jazz_ for "fuck" at least as recently
as the '50's.

Militating against this as a possible interpretation, IMO, is that,
IME, _jazz_ was never used euphemistically. At least, that was the
impression that I got from reading the word and from hearing it in the
wild. According to W:pedia, the series dates from1896 and was about
probably the quintessential all-American,
knowing-nothing-about-that-there boys. It would never have been
necessary to point out to potential readers that Dick was a nice boy.
If the punctuation were

"No jazz, no sex …"

I'd think, _jazz_ = "a musical genre," with any reference to sex being
the product of a dirty mind. As it stands, I see "no jazz, i.e. no sex
(y'all gnome sane <heh! heh!>)" as a dstinct, though very much
unexpected, possibility. But, of course,


All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint
to come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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