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Here is an excerpt from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

'He threw away a copy of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat , he threw away a copy of Godspell: he wouldn't need them where he was going.'

My understanding is that independent clauses should be separated by a conjunction, a semi-colon, or a full-stop. Therefore, shouldn't this sentence read

'He threw away a copy of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat ; he threw away a copy of Godspell: he wouldn't need them where he was going.'

Although I think the second sentence is technically correct, I would say that the first sentence is more natural. If commas and semi-colons can be thought of as cues for how long we should pause when reading a sentence, then the first sentence is a clear winner. So is Douglas Adams breaking a punctuation rule in the interests of readability, or is no rule being broken at all?

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Veni, vidi, vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. This construction is often cited as an example of short clauses joined by commas to good effect.

"On rare occasions, joining independent clauses with only a comma may be acceptable—for example, when the clauses are very short and have the same form, when the tone is informal and conversational, or when you feel the sentence rhythm calls for it.

Live by the sword, die by the sword."

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/grammar/common-sentence-errors/runon-sentences

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    But why is allowed to be a good model for English constructions?
    – Conrado
    Jun 14 '20 at 12:22
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    @Conrado In the lower grades in U.S. schools, many grammar rules are taught as absolute so as not to get into areas that would confuse and frustrate young students. Never starting a sentence with "and" is one such rule. Never split infinitives is another. Not joining clauses with a comma is a similar rule. Later, one finds out these rules, though in general desirable, are not absolute. R.L. Stevenson's advice to a budding writer was ". . . never let a long sentence get out of hand. And never to bother with English grammar." Advice and example in one sentence.
    – Zan700
    Jun 14 '20 at 20:23
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The comma splice is incorrect according to styling guides in general, but styling guides don't apply to works of fiction in general. A fiction author is free to take poetic license at his or her own peril or to his or her own profit. Some prominent authors in the world of literature earned their prominence by purposefully breaking the "rules" (which should more aptly be called "the status quo").

Your correction is also incorrect. There are three clauses joined in it. That's just overly verbose. A more correct way to do it would be to split it into three sentences, as:

He threw away a copy of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He threw away a copy of Godspell. He wouldn't need them where he was going.

You can alternatively rewrite these three sentences by combination:

He threw away a copy of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Godspell; he wouldn't need them where he was going.

But again, I'd like to emphasize that an author is free to write however he or she wants. It's up to the readers how to judge it. The lesson here is: don't try to infer rules of grammar from works of fiction especially. Actual style guides are your de factor reference for those.

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