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The overtones of the word "slender" are perhaps equivocal. If we compare a 20th century "flapper" drawn by John Held, Jr., with a 17th century maiden painted by Rubens, we realize that "slender" in one context may appear scrawny or emaciated in another. With books as with maidens, size may be rather important. To be sure, all things are relative, and a book slender for one literary culture may seem quite plump enough in another. Yet the phrase "slender volume," overworked by book reviewers, retains a certain significance that bears discussion.
Sometimes a reader may question whether the term slender as applied to books conveys a discreetly veiled reproach, as if this era of abundance should produce only well-fleshed publications. Certainly, if a manuscript seems a little emaciated, could not the author have made a slightly larger "review of the literature"? Is there any excuse for a book that is
"THIS SLENDER VOLUME. JAMA. 1963;185(8):662. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03060080058019