You Got Style
· Pointed Takes on Style Delineated ·
September 30, 2002
· Points on Style's Triangle ·
Murray's classic The Problem of Style (lectures delivered at Brasenose College, Oxford, in the summer of 1921) is handy here, and I note therein this interesting passage:
Murray naturally goes on to explain the sentences, delineating what is often depicted as the ethos, pathos, and logos of style's rhetorical triangle. Style is, as Buffon writes — adding some needed French orthography — l'homme mêmé: "the man himself." Again, it's a "teachable" technique — "only properly applied to the exposition," as Murray thinks, "of intellectual ideas" (though that's debatable). And last, it's a more "absolute" notion, referring to a quality which "transcends all personal idiosyncracy, yet needs — or seems to need — " Murray claims, "personal idiosyncrasy in order to be manifested. Style," he writes, "in this absolute sense, is a complete fusion of the personal and the universal."
That's heady stuff, but it delineates the point well enough — at least for today. Maybe triangulates it.Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
September 28, 2002
· Wetting a Line \ Whetting the Points ·
Farmer-essayist Berry understands well Thoreau's dictum that getting one's "hands" dirty knocks the "palaver" out of one's writing, and he understands like Izaak Walton how to make points about style in some taut, intelligent lines about angling. Maybe that's why he focuses on Ernest Hemingway and Norman Maclean in his short essay, "Style and Grace."
The essay is about Hemingway's "Big Two-Hearted River" (1925) and Maclean's A River Runs through It (1976). Berry notes the clear strengths of these contrasting masterpieces of English style, praising Hemingway's craftsmanly fastidiousness — his "refusing clutter" in not fishing the narrative's famous swamp at last — and Maclean's "not so neat or self-contained, but just as fine," messiness — his choosing to fish in a story of loss, bewilderment, and misunderstanding for "the essential mysteriousness of our experience." I like his contrast, fastidiousness and messiness, and I recommend them both.
But I can't help noting Berry's ending:
What cannot be seen, of course, is the big fish — named Grace — which, as Maclean's story makes clear (and you might note here), "comes by art and art does not come easy."Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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