Saturday, 4 February 2017

Fancy Prose

David Lodge, in The Art of Fiction, discusses Nabokov's 'fancy prose'. ('You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.' - Lolita)

Philip Larkin, in Required Writing, speaks of Anthony Powell's style:
A formal, slightly comic view of life requires a matching style: Mr Powell's is Comic Mandarin, a descendant of Polysyllabic Facetiousness. [...] it imparts a glaze to the action, as if one were not getting it first hand, an illusion most novelists strive to preserve.
Anita Brookner has been described as mandarin, also Augustan, Jamesian, dandyish. 'Nobody else will ever write like Anita Brookner,' said Michele Roberts of The Rules of Engagement. I have looked at 'Brooknerese' in a previous post. Brookner herself, however, was careful not to be presumptive:
Interviewer: I would like to talk about your style, which has rightly been praised as exceptionally elegant, lucid, and original. You explain it somewhat in Providence by saying, 'A novel is not simply confession, it is about the author’s choice of words.' What does style mean to you?
Brookner: Very little. I am not conscious of having a style. I write quite easily, without thinking about the words much but rather about what they want to say. I do think that respect for form is absolutely necessary in any art form - painting, writing, anything. I try to write as lucidly as possible. You might say that lucidity is a conscious preoccupation. I am glad people seem to like it.

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