Thursday, 9 March 2017

WRITERS ON WRITING #90: Ford Madox Ford

A style interests when it carries the reader along; it is then a good style.  A style ceases to interest when by reason of disjointed sentences, over-used words, monotonous or jog-trot cadences, it fatigues the reader's mind.  Too startling words, however apt, too just images, too great displays of cleverness are apt in the long run to be as fatiguing as the most over-used words or the most jog-trot cadences.  That a face resembles a Dutch clock has been too often said; to say that it resembles a ham is inexact and conveys nothing; to say that it has the mournfulness of an old, squashed-in meat tin, cast away on a waste building lot, would be smart –– but too much of that sort of thing would become a nuisance.  To say that a face is cramoisy* is undesirable; few people nowadays know what the word means.  Its employment will make the reader marvel at the user's erudition; in thus marvelling he ceases to consider the story and an impression of vagueness or length is produced on his mind.  A succession of impressions of vagueness or length render a book in the end unbearable. 

Joseph Conrad: A Personal Remembrance (1924)

[*cramoisy is an archaic word for crimson, primarily used to describe the colour of cloth, which entered Late Middle English via the Arabic word kermizi.]

THE FORD MADOX FORD SOCIETY is an international organization founded in 1997 'to promote knowledge of and interest in the life and works of Ford Madox Ford which can be visited by clicking HERE.  You can also click HERE to watch a short clip from the soon-to-be released documentary It Was The Nightingale: The Unreliable Story of Ford Madox Ford, directed by PAUL LEWIS for Subterracon Films.

You might also enjoy:
FORD MADOX FORD A Call: The Tale of Two Passions (1910)
JOSEPH CONRAD The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907)
WRITERS ON WRITING #40: Ford Madox Ford

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