Young or old, I have always endeavored to write properly. I blow it constantly. But it's not because times have changed, it's because the craft of writing well is a difficult one and I am a lazy fuck. I don't think good style has changed much since the classical period.
I could just about learn to live with people mocking me for writing like Gibbon. I'm unlikely to find out what that feels like, but it's something to aspire to. I might laugh at such a person as well....if I could think of any living person who writes up to that standard.
I imagine I could find someone, somewhere, to laugh at me if I played piano like Art Tatum.
If you start with a good model, it is easier to appreciate the ways other writers depart from that model and why they choose to do so. Faulkner is a good example because, as Patrick King points out, sometimes the guy just isn't writing in English at all. Even when he is speaking the language, diagramming one of his sentences often would be like sketching the New York subway system.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 13:20
Subject: Re: willeford RE: RARA-AVIS: recent reads
--- In email@example.com, "James Michael Rogers" <jeddak5@...> wrote:
> When I say "good style", which I usually don't, I am referring to an author who is very economical, very evocative, and very ,very precise (almost lawyerly) in their meaning. My exhibits would be Gibbon, Johnson, Austen and Chesterton. Perhaps they are indigestible and long-winded.
Times change, and so does language, and so does writing. It's not reasonable to say that "good style" was fixed at some point and then it's a paradigm. Everything is in flux. If you or I wrote like Gibbon today, people would laugh at us. Which is another way of saying (this was noted by Russell) that young people should pay no attention to old people, since it's young people's lives that are at stake...
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