famous quote syntactically mangled, nobody notices

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 30 17:16:39 UTC 2012

A famous remark attributed to Gen. Robert E. Lee is
the epigrammatic feature of the "Introduction" to Frank McAdams's _The
American War Film_ (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2002).

Lee is said by an early biographer to have commented at the battle of
Fredericksburg that "It is well that this is so terrible! we should grow
too fond of it!"  Modern renditions usually phrase it as "...war is so
terrible, else..."  or something similar.

The problem I have with McAdams's version is not its accuracy but its
impossible syntax, missed by author, editor, and copy editor of an academic

"It is well that war is so terrible, that we should grow too fond of it."

I find this construction incredible, particularly since, if anything, it
seems to say that we *should* grow too fond of it.  Or is it just me?


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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

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