Friday, August 12, 2011

Soul is more than Syntax

Writing applies many skills in communication of something important, or anyway enjoyable enough, to get readers to continue reading.  Writing well also seems to require inner strength that cannot be taught by writing professors or professionals.  Joseph Epstein has a few thoughts on writing in The New Criterion, which is itself a place to find a lot of good writing.

The pretext for Epstein's ideas is his review of the new book by Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One.  Epstein says there is something fishy about the book.  His review is titled Heavy Sentences.

He begins:
After thirty years of teaching a university course in something called advanced prose style, my accumulated wisdom on the subject, inspissated into a single thought, is that writing cannot be taught, though it can be learned—and that, friends, is the sound of one hand clapping. A. J. Liebling offers a complementary view, more concise and stripped of paradox, which runs: “The only way to write is well, and how you do it is your own damn business.” 

See if Epstein can keep you reading...  .

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