The Devil's Details (Paperback)

A History of Footnotes

By Chuck Zerby

Touchstone Books, 9780743241755, 160pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2003

List Price: 12.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


Footnotes have not had it easy. Their dominance of eighteenth- and nineteenth- century literature and scholarship was both hard-won -- following many years of struggle -- and doomed, as it led to belittlement in the twentieth century. In The Devil's Details, Chuck Zerby playfully explores footnotes' long and illustrious history and makes a clarion call to save them from the new world of the Internet and hypertext. In a story that boasts a marvelous plot and a rogues' gallery of players, Zerby examines traditional footnotes and their less-buttoned-down incarnations, as when used by pornographers. Yes, The Devil's Details is full of surprises: Zerby hunts down the first bona fide fully functioning footnote; unearths a multivolume history of Northumberland County, England, that uses one volume for a single footnote; and uncovers a murder plot. He even explains why footnotes are like blind dates. Carefully researched and highly opinionated, The Devil's Details affirms that delight in reading can come from unexpected places.

About the Author

Chuck Zerby developed The Devil's Details from an article he published in The New York Times. A former columnist for the Amherst Record, Zerby lives in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Praise For The Devil's Details: A History of Footnotes

Michael Pakenham
The Baltimore Sun

[A] charming, witty history and exploration of the formal written aside.

Amanda Heller
The Boston Globe

In this short volume -- festooned of course with a rococo profusion of bottom-of-the-page diversions and digressions -- Zerby presents colorful examples of footnote use....A spirited defense of a little-loved and endangered species.