Which reminds me…

I'll tell you what I find mildly irritating: the phrase reminds us, as used by scholarly reviewers. You see it a lot in the London Review of Books (my butler reads it). Indeed, if you search for the phrase 'reminds us' on the LRB website, you will see that it has been used 739 times in that august magazine over the years. That's an awful lot of reminders.

Here are a few recent examples, to give you a flavour of the sort of thing I'm on about:

What The Age of Wonder narrates is also, Holmes reminds us, what Banks himself would have been learning. An 'all-seeing eye', 'the sceptical, all-weather eye of Banks', peers out of successive chapters; his gaze sweeps 'steadily round the globe like some vast, inquiring lighthouse beam'.
—Susan Eilenberg, LRB 7 January 2010

In the Sonnets, as Schalkwyk reminds us, the humiliations of rank are never wholly separable from the poet-actor's sense of himself as one whose histrionic trade has made him 'a motley to the view', the fool's costume becoming a substitute for livery and a degrading reminder of the player's role as servant.
—Michael Neill, LRB 22 October 2009

With her own special bite, Atwood singles out for dramatic treatment the girls who worked in the palace and fraternised with Penelope's suitors; she reminds us how pitilessly Odysseus orders them to be hanged, every one.
—Marina Warner, LRB 27 August 2009

Carson reminds us that Aristotle thought that Euripides, 'whatever the ineptitudes of his stagecraft', was 'the most tragic' of the tragic poets.
—Michael Wood, LRB 11 June 2009

By triangulating the relationship between Cecil, Elizabeth and Mary Stuart, Alford reminds us of the very unusual circumstances that shaped Elizabethan politics.
—Simon Adams, LRB 11 June 2009

Yes, thanks for the reminders, chaps! Fancy forgetting something like that—silly old us! We'd forget our own heads, if they weren't screwed on, eh?

No, what the phrase 'reminds us' really means is 'somebody else has said something rather clever and profound, but I'm going to pretend I knew it all along, and make you feel stupid by implying that you should have known it too'.

It must be really great to be as clever as one of those scholarly reviewer types.

Meanwhile, Fitz reminds us that two of the UK's most popular pop songs of all time, Whiter Shade of Pale and Bohemian Rhapsody, both contain the word fandango.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

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