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Introducing Quotations

By Robert Turner,2014-08-12 09:30
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Introducing Quotations ...

INTEGRATING QUOTES FROM LITERATURE

    (90 minutes)

EXPLANATION (30 minutes)

    Why insert quotes? For the same reason that you would use quotes or source material in any paper: quotes provide an example of what you mean, or illustrate what you‟re saying, or support what you‟re saying.

    You always assume your „readers‟ have read the work you‟re discussing, but you make them read it through your eyes. That means that you must direct their eyes to specific

    points in the text, those points that produced the ideas you‟re arguing.

    For instance, if you are arguing that Sonny in the short story “Sonny‟s Blues” has difficulty communicating with words and thus uses music to express himself, you must show your reader where, in the story itself, you see Sonny having difficulty expressing himself. Don‟t

    just identify the place (“When Sonny talks to his brother, he can‟t say what‟s on his mind”). Let us hear the actual dialog, the phrase, the lines in the original source that demonstrate this. And if you are interpreting the lines, you must explain your interpretation. The goal is to let readers see what you saw.

Rules for quoting

; When you quote, you must use the original language, punctuation and spelling

    exactly as they appear in your source. Paraphrase, approximation or “guessing” are

    just not acceptable. As a writer, you absolutely must preserve a clear distinction

    between your words and someone else‟s. And when you write for public consumption,

    which is what you do here, you have no authority to amend someone else‟s words,

    however trivial you think the amendment is. It‟s at best disrespectful, and at worst,

    deceptive. Think how much trouble journalists get into for doctoring even small details

    of what people have said or done, and apply that same principle to your own work.

; You should also observe the stylistic guidelines for quotations. These includes rules

    about how to punctuate, how to phrase your quotes, and so on.

Stylistic guidelines

    ; Short quotes: These should ideally be inserted into your own sentences, and form a

    coherent syntax. In other words, if you read your sentence aloud, it must make sense

    as a whole sentence, and readers should not necessarily be able to tell where your

    words end and the quote begins. Also, when you quote poetry, remember that you

    should quote that part of the sentence (not necessarily the line) that fills out your idea.

    If you try to include the whole poetic line, your quote may well include half of one

    sentence and half of another, and won‟t make sense.

RIGHT:

Having sworn to “put an antic disposition on,” Hamlet starts to behave strangely.

    Despite vowing to kill his wife, Othello determines not to “shed her blood.”

    [Note how the sentence would make grammatical sense even without the quote.]

WRONG:

Emilia has a low opinion of men: “When they change us for others? Is it sport?”

    The Duke of Ferrara is jealous of his wife‟s enjoyments, complaining that “She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.”

[These sentences don‟t make sense as sentences.]

    ; When using a short quote from poetry (not from prose!), you should mark end of the line with a slash (/).

ORIGINAL:

     I hate the Moor,

    And „tis thought abroad that twixt my sheets

    He‟s done my office.

RIGHT:

    Iago tries to justify his hatred of Othello by pointing to the rumor that “‟twixt my sheets / He‟s done my office.”

    WRONG:

    Iago tries to justify his hatred of Othello by pointing to the rumor that “‟twixt my sheets he‟s done my office.”

    ; Long quotes: If your quote wraps around two or three lines, readers can get confused. They may begin to lose track of whose words are whose,or think that you have forgotten to close the quote. So you should set off a longer quote by indenting it. Skip one line, indent one tab space on the left hand margin, and leave out the speech marks (you don‟t need them). You can still make the start of the quote part of your own sentence. At the end, skip another line, remove the indent and continue.

    In some ways, Emily seems to have died long ago. She is described as

     a small, fat woman in black, with a thin gold chain descending to her waist and

    vanishing into her belt, leaning on an ebony cane with a tarnished gold head. Her

    skeleton was small and spare.... She looked bloated, like a body long submerged in

    motionless water, and of that pallid hue.

    All the imagery in the description evokes death: the image of the “skeleton,” the “bloated,” drowned body, the pale skin.

    Changing and Punctuating Quotes

    ; Sometimes you need to make minor amendments to the wording of a quotation to fit it into your sentence (usually, so your sentence makes sense). When you change a word, you should put that change in square brackets.

ORIGINAL:

    “... as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-thousand-years-old name / With anybody‟s gift.”

RIGHT:

    The Duke complains that his wife acted “as if she ranked / [His] gift of a nine-thousand-

    years-old name / With anybody‟s gift.”

WRONG:

    The Duke complains that his wife acted “as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-thousand-

    years-old name / With anybody‟s gift.”

    ; Where you leave out a word or words, either to cut to what is relevant or to save space, insert three periods (...) to make an ellipsis. This shows the reader that something is missing. If you end the sentence on this ellipsis, insert a fourth period to end the sentence. An ellipsis can stand for three words, or four pages; it doesn‟t matter.

ORIGINAL:

    “... as if she ranked / My gift of a nine-thousand-years-old name / With anybody‟s gift.”

RIGHT:

    The Duke complains that his wife acted “as if she ranked / [His] gift... / With anybody‟s gift.”

WRONG:

    The Duke complains that his wife acted “as if she ranked / My gift / With anybody‟s gift.”

    Making sure you’ve chosen the right quote!

    ; Your quote should support exactly the point you‟re making. Be careful about which

    words or sentences you choose. Often, writers pick the sentence next to the one they

    really need!

RIGHT:

    Mathilde‟s ideas of wealth are superficial, even fantastical. She dreams of “vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms....”

    [This quote describes the superficial ideas of wealth mentioned in the topic sentence.]

WRONG:

    Mathilde‟s ideas of wealth are superficial, even fantastical. “She had no clothes, no

    jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them.”

    [But this quote doesn‟t show us that her ideas of wealth are fantastical; it shows us that

    she doesn‟t have any rich things and is sad about it, a completely different point.]

    ; You should explain most quotes so that the reader understands why you think it supports your point. Leaving it hanging is confusing.

RIGHT:

Mathilde‟s ideas of wealth are superficial, even fantastical. Mathilde‟s daydreams are

    not connected to specific things she actually wants, like a house in a particular part of town or the convenience of having her own carriage. Instead, she dreams of “vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms....” This is fabulous wealth indeed, a

    fantasy world that very few rich people really inhabit. It‟s the nineteenth-century

    equivalent of a girl today dreaming of Hollywood fame, complete with a Beverly Hills mansion, a swimming pool full of Evian water, solid gold faucets, a different outfit for every day of the week, and evenings out clubbing with J.Lo and P. Diddy. In short, it‟s

    not really money that Mathilde wants at all. She yearns for a different role in the drama of life, one where she is the glamorous romantic lead with everything beautiful about her, not just someone on the sidelines. She wants the impossible.

    NOTES (30 minutes)

    1. Write down the gist of this module for your reference. You can also print it up, but

    it‟s useful to write the rules down too: it helps you remember them.

EXERCISE (30 minutes)

    Here is an extract from a poem by John Keats, in which the poet is sitting alone in his garden, as darkness falls, listening to a nightingale sing. Below it is a short piece written about the poem. Read both, and edit the paragraph. It contains eight errors of presentation, syntax and relevance.

POEM: Darkling I listen; and for many a time

     I have been half in love with easeful Death,

     Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme,

     To take into the air my quiet breath;

     Now more than ever seems it rich to die,

     To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

     While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

     In such an ecstasy!

     Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain --

     To thy high requiem become a sod.

    ESSAY: The poem is not somber, not even solemn, but it seems to express a

    deathwish. “Darkling I listen: and for many a time I have been half in love

    with easeful Death.” He imagines himself passing so peacefully that the

    moment of death will go unnoticed by the bird, and even by himself. Death

    will simply To take into the air my quiet breathing,” and he will merely “To

    cease upon the midnight with no pain.” His ears will no longer hear the bird;

    he will have merged into the grass and flowers around him, becoming

    another lump, “To thy high requiem become a sod.”

     But really, this is not about wanting to die, but about wanting a kind of

    immortality. The bird, after all, will keep singing. “Still wouldst thou sing.”

    Time will not stop; the midnight will turn to one o‟clock. The air that absorbs

    his breath will still be there. He wants to die in a painless, deliciously

    peaceful way, but he wants to die while the bird keeps singing, so that his

    death will somehow be associated with something that keeps going. “I have

    ears in vain.” He may be dead, but the song continues.

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