I was reading "Maple Leaf Culture Time", an essay by Mordecai Richler, and came across this page:

page from Maple Leaf Culture Time

Here is the text in question, transcribed:

Neither is Mavis Gallant included among the more than 350 entries in Canadian Writers/Écrivains Canadiens, a biographical dictionary edited by Guy Sylvestre, Brandon Conron, and Carl F. Klinck, whilst my listing manages a grammatical error and a new, yet provocative judgement in one sentence. "In addition to his novels, Richler ... worked on the film script for John Osborne's Room at the Top and Life at the Top."

What's the grammatical error? The only blatant thing I could see what the minor plural mishap, wherein they mention two scripts but write "the film script." Is that it? or is he referring to something else?

  • In addition to the mysterious grammatical error, I see no judgement of any sort in the quote, let alone a "provocative judgment". Perhaps the sentence quoted in the previous paragraph was originally meant, as it says that five authors deserve mention (a judgement) but then only lists four (arguably a grammatical error), and the description was somehow misplaced. Or perhaps this is a reference to some unquoted part of the sentence in Canadian Writers/Écrivains Canadiens, which so offended the author that he couldn't even bring himself to include it in the essay.
    – 1006a
    Jun 28, 2017 at 17:11
  • @Azor-Ahai Try reading the suggestions in this Meta post. There are ways around the 6 character limit. You can also word it in a way that you're asking for an edit. It's current wording makes it sound like you're trying to make that an answer to the OP's question.
    – Hank
    Jun 28, 2017 at 17:22
  • 2
    According to Wikipedia, Mordecai Richler's published works include Life at the Top (1965) (screenplay from novel by John Braine). Your cited text could be considered "ambiguous" on that point, but if they didn't already kinow the authorship, most people would probably assume John Osborne's referred to both scripts, not just the first-mentioned. Jun 28, 2017 at 17:23
  • @FumbleFingers I think that may be answer-worthy
    – Hank
    Jun 28, 2017 at 17:30
  • @Hank: If OP thinks the script/scripts issue is a "minor mishap", I can't think how he would describe such a trivial point as the one I made (though I suppose if we want to get really anal, they could be seen as two faces of the same coin; perhaps Richler only published a review of Life at the Top, or there are some other "extenuating circumstances"). Jun 28, 2017 at 17:49

1 Answer 1


The sentence

In addition to his novels, Richler … worked on the film script(s) …

is meant to mean something along the lines of

  • Richler wrote novels and worked on the film script(s) …
  • Richler is known for his novels and the film script(s) … [which he worked on]

But, from a very pedantic point of view, “In addition to his novels, Richler” is a compound subject, so the sentence ‘actually’ means

Richler’s novels … worked on the film script(s) …   In addition, Richler … worked on the film script(s) …

in the sense of

In addition to the other reindeer, Rudolph pulled Santa’s sleigh.

Obviously the intended meaning is clear.

I don’t see the “provocative judgment” either.

  • That's it! This makes a lot of sense. As for the provocative judgement, he's making a sarcastic joke: there is no provocative judgement, and in fact, it's an extremely sterile and purely factual entry.
    – Devilius
    Jun 30, 2017 at 13:06

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