"The novel transgresses the literary/genre fiction divide."

Is it proper to say that something transgresses a divide? Is a binary also transgressed? and can we use use the slash punctuation for the binary opposites as in here?

  • Honestly, I wouldn't use transgress. The word means to sin, to err, to violate, basically to commit a wrong. The novel bridges or crosses the literary/genre fiction divide would be better, as these are just separate categories of fiction, and the novel is not doing any wrong by combining elements of both. Dec 2, 2021 at 13:40
  • Many thanks! very helpful!
    – J Malaviya
    Dec 2, 2021 at 16:19
  • Transgress means "to go beyond a boundary or limit" i.e. cross something you're not supposed to cross; this sense isn't found in FeliniusRex's alternatives. You can argue about the author's claims (1) that there's a real divide there and (2) that it's a transgression to cross it (against art, social convention, genre rules, or the Dewey Decimal System), but these debates are outside the scope of EL&U.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 3, 2021 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


Yes, what you wrote is fine. A quick Web search provided some examples:

. . . it is also problematic because it transgresses the public–private law divide inherent to Swedish law. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2427.12651)

. . . a longstanding Mediterranean identity that transgresses the Europe-Africa-divide. (https://www.bigsas-litfestival.com/) (The second hyphen in this example is unusual and unnecessary.)

Those examples use a hyphen, but there is no reason why a slash couldn't also be used to indicate such a division.

  • 1
    A slash is considered a bit less formal than some alternatives (according to this blog AP frowns upon it). But it's not clear where the original quote is from and if it's a context where it would matter.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 3, 2021 at 0:46

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