James, for the use of dashes?" James's first response is: "Dash my fame!" But then he launches into a serious discussion of dashes, and of punctuation in general, a trivial-looking mark that is nonetheless crucial to the mood and tempo of his sentences: "Dashes, it seems almost platitudinous to say, have their particular representative virtue, their quickening force, and, to put it roughly, strike both the familiar and the emphatic note, when those are the notes required, with a felicity beyond either the comma or the semicolon; though indeed a fine sense for the semicolon, like any sort of sense at all for the pluperfect tense
and the subjunctive mood, on which the whole perspective in a sentence may depend, seems anything but common" (ibid.).