The five best punctuation marks of all time:

This is not an argument about the natural coolness of (say) the semi-colon (though I trust we all appreciate a well-used semi-colon).

It is a paean to five particular punctuation marks in famous literary works (only one of which I’ve read, btw).


George Eliot

TS Eliot



I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever read another article that made me kind of want to rush out and read a bunch of classics. Particularly the one by Primo Levi. “Levi’s strange, lovely, mostly memoir-ish book includes everything from short stories to accounts of his imprisonment in Auschwitz to a subtle investigation of chemistry — both as a scientific discipline (he was trained as a chemist) and as the invisible infrastructure of the world.” Huh. I never encountered this book, but it sounds like maybe I should pick it up.

Anyway, click through, by all means, and take a look at the brilliant use of a parentheses, an em-dash, an ellipsis, a colon, and a humble period. What do you think? Do you think the author of the article, Kathryn Schulz, is right that all these punctuation marks represent great moments in literature. I’m willing to buy it; I think it’s great to focus on punctuation marks.

Please Feel Free to Share:


1 thought on “The five best punctuation marks of all time:”

  1. Ooh, I do like Periodic Table. But I really like “The Monkey’s Wrench”, which is as delightful a collection of vignettes on the Dignity of the Working Man as you will ever run across. It’s just a lovely book, completely suitable for a birthday present*, very different in tone from his other–more Auschwitz-inspired–work.

    * I bought it for my father many years ago.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top