Taming the Jabberwock: A Plain Redraft of Lewis Carroll's 1883 Publishing Contract
Taming the Jabberwock: A Plain Redraft of Lewis Carroll’s 1883 Publishing Contract, 19 Scribes J. Legal Writing 55 (2020)
25 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2020
Date Written: October 11, 2020
With the kind permission of the estate of Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll), this article reproduces Dodgson's 1883 publishing contract for his "Alice in Wonderland" books and offers a plain-language redraft. The author found the original 1883 contract in an archive of Dodgson's personal papers in County Surrey, England, during an academic visitorship. Besides providing the original contract and a full redraft, the article offers a step-by-step analysis of selected provisions, exploring the thinking and technique behind user-centered documents. Featured drafting techniques include improving navigability with informative headings and subheadings; eliminating legalese; using vertical lists to break up dense text; and more. The discussion and methods reflect principles found in leading texts by Kenneth Adams, Bryan Garner, Joseph Kimble, and Tina Stark. The article would be a suitable supplement to those and other texts.
Keywords: legal writing, drafting, legal drafting, contracts, contract drafting, plain language, legalese, clarity, ambiguity, ambiguous, legislative drafting, Lewis Carroll, Charles Dodgson
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