“Better Not Of”

This phrase, closely kin to “would of”, shows up in a line of dialogue early in McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men.

Unlike Harrison, McCarthy uses eye-dialect (and has the tic of omitting apostrophes in contractions—where did this come from?), but it’s inapplicable, strictly speaking, in this case.

The google books corpus reveals a similar usage on p. 247 of Gass’s Omensetter’s Luck.


Page 72 has, in dialogue, “I wouldnt of thought it.”

3 thoughts on ““Better Not Of”

  1. I think Faulkner’s pattern is different. McCarthy,or, more likely, his editors, are quick to apostrophize he’ll and we’re so as not to confuse, but it’s inconsistent otherwise.

  2. I’ve sort of paid attention to this across several of McCarthy’s novels and it does remind me of Faulkner only with some Hubert Selby’s omissions thrown in for chuckles. If McCarthy wasn’t a crazily reclusive old guy I would swear he was trying to evoke some post-post hipster cachet.

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