I am currently reading Gould’s Book Of Fish, by Richard Flanagan, which won the Commonwealth Prize for literature in 2002 (though Amazon suggest there was a version of it knocking about since 1998). A beguiling work, it puports to be a reweitten recently discovered annoted version of the real Book of Fish, a selection of drawings of fish for scientific purposes done by a convict in Tasmania. The first chapter is an introduction about the discovery of this slippery artifact, with the rest of the novel being an imagineering of the life of the otherwise unknown Gould. Its rollicking good fun too. And contains a lot of ampersands.

It made me go and look at some other period novels. These have howeve rbeen subject to recent printings and hence do not use ampersands in their text. A unfocused eye on the page picks up these &’s magically & suddenly one is aware just how often and is used on a page. Can people who have older books than me verify if the & was used often in direct prose in the nineteenth century. The effect here is to make the text look period (although the introduction does explain that this is all rewritten from memory). A quirk of printing which leapt out at me. Much like a fish.