Craig DworkinNote on Parse

Parse is a translation of Edwin A. Abbott’s How To Parse: An Attempt to Apply the Principles of Scholarship to English Grammar. First published in 1874, the book played a leading role in the pedagogic debate over whether English should be analyzed as if it were Latin, and thousands of copies were printed as textbooks in the last quarter of the 19th century.

When I first came across the book I was reminded of a confession by Gertrude Stein (another product of 1874): “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.” And so, of course, I parsed Abbott’s book into its own idiosyncratic system of analysis.