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22 September 2011

maybe Aldous Huxley, Edgar Allen Poe, etc were just absurdly overeducated for their eventual claims to fame in short story writing? Either that or characters in their eras/settings actually talked that way. [More:]

I just came across an 1826 british magazine (the spectator) where everyone writes like they're Jane Austen characters. So, maybe they did! We too should strive to strew our conversation with run-on sentences and allusions to various half-cooked scientific theories and the meaning of Art and throw bits of Greek in as well. It would slow convo down a bit to a more pleasantly ambling level.
Remember, these guys were writing with quill and ink on paper that was not exactly cheap. Every word was carefully considered, phrases mutated, clauses resequenced, and sentences rehearsed before one last drink and a drag from the cigar led to the actual formation of letters. With no television nor radio nor phones, evenings were long and thoughts became obsessions demanding their just consignment to posterity.
posted by Ardiril 22 September | 17:31
I think everyone was indeed ffar more literary in speaking style in 1926, too. It's astonishing how much more clipped and abbreviated spoken speech has become even in my middle aged lifetime.

posted by bearwife 22 September | 18:44
They did talk that way, at least strove to, in the educated elite classes. There was an intense of amount of language, elocution and rhetoric training in the basic education, which included plenty of recitation, and the art of conversation was a mark of intellect and refinement, so people worked at it. They also read a huge amount and their reading influenced their speech.
posted by Miko 22 September | 21:25
(...and being around it is infectious. For my undergrad I was immersed in 19th century literature for a few years at a time, and it definitely influenced my writing and speaking deeply at the time I was reading a lot of it. And I think my love for and predilection to complex and compound sentences is also attributable to that kind of reading.)
posted by Miko 22 September | 21:26
Being a lit major is an experience. I did 4 years of german lit at Penn State. My sophomore year I got to attack the collected works of Shakespeare and its many translations over a couple centuries. After awhile, the papers, exams and orals start to flow out on their own. Once that happens, you're ready for your senior year.

You cannot stab anyone in the back in fiction without referencing Shakespeare.
posted by Ardiril 22 September | 22:03
Permanent Record. || Bunny! OMG!