Looking at the answers to questions around whether it is acceptable to use nested parentheses:

it seems that nested parentheses are considered acceptable in terms of grammar rules, but are not a practice that is highly recommended (unless intentionally trying to create some effect from it).

While reading about nested parentheses, I tried to think of cases I'd come across in my own reading, and could not think of any cases at all.

The answers give only one example of nested parentheses by a popular author (William Faulkner).

Given the apparent rarity of nested parentheses, I am curious to know of any examples of nested parentheses in any high profile, classical literature (particularly from outside of the domains of science and math, where they may be more common).

  • '... acceptable in terms of grammar rules' seems to reflect a couple of common misconceptions. Please consider: (1) Punctuation and grammar are regarded as separate issues in academic linguistics (and that hopefully includes what appears on ELU). // (2) Though grammaticality is certainly important, making sense and sounding/looking natural are at least equally so (and, in Orwell's view for instance, more so). Style is very important too. //// That said, surely the scarcity of the use of nested parentheses in decent literature speaks volumes. //// Given it's 99% best avoided, why look for it? Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:16
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    I’m voting to close this question because it accepts that it's requesting examples of a practice almost all consider better avoided if possible, and very rare. Even if a few examples are found, I don't see how this will be helpful to any other readers. Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:19
  • @EdwinAshworth If it is true that there are very few cases, that is a worthy answer. I am very interested from a data perspective. For example, if there are dozens of examples that come to mind, then we could perhaps consider it akin to a word that very infrequently gets used, but it useful on occasion. But if it takes extreme effort for a community such as this to find any examples at all, then it is probably fair to assume it rarely gets used, except perhaps as a novelty. At this point, I have no information about its prevalence, which is my chief interest.
    – stevec
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:45
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    Garner (here) is an authority worth heeding. TheEditor(!) echoes the warning about poor style: 'But nested parentheses are a warning sign: they tell you that your writing has got itself tied in knots that will be too difficult for the average unmotivated reader to disentangle. It’s best to do the work now so that your readers won’t have to do it later. ' Why would great writers not avoid this? Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:53
  • @EdwinAshworth don't worry, I am not going to use it. I agree with everything you've said 100%. But simply because I won't do something myself doesn't mean I don't want to know about how others have used it. E.g. to know "have writers past or present used device XYZ". I think these questions warrant exploration, if only for curiosity's sake.
    – stevec
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:57


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