The Politics of Style: Staying Alive
Source TitleTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Programs
PublisherAustralasian Association of Writing Programs
University of Melbourne Author/sBrophy, Kevin
AffiliationCulture and Communication
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBROPHY, K. (2008). The Politics of Style: Staying Alive. Text: Journal of writing and writing courses, 12 (2)
Access StatusOpen Access
C1 - Refereed Journal Article
Reproduced with permission of TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
For the poet style is a matter of life and death. Far from being an adornment to an artefact, style is central to what is communicated by a poet. Aristotle identified the two tendencies in style, that towards a language of the people, and that towards an exotic, metaphoric language. The aims of these extremes of style, he suggested, are in turn clarity and dignity. There is a continuing politics and a continuing war between writers committed to one or the other extreme of style in literature. William Carlos Williams and TS Eliot were in opposite camps when it came to a stand on style. Annie Dillard and more lately James Wood continue the debate in their essays on style in prose fiction. William Gass and Raymond Carver provide examples of commitment to one or the other mode. Putting aside the debate over which camp a writer might belong in, I pursue the question of what might make a style 'work' or not work. Adapting ideas expressed by Christopher Alexander in his 1979 architectural study of the 'timeless' way of building, I propose that beyond the politics of style there is the question of whether one's style is 'alive' - and that this question is, for poets, at the centre of what they are communicating, and whether they can live as writers. I offer examples of writers from the absurdist Russian movement of the 1930s and from the romantic poet, Heinrich von Kleist who wrote an unfinished essay on 'The Gradual Production of Thoughts while Speaking'.
KeywordsPerforming Arts and Creative Writing
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References