Modern Prose Style

Modern Prose Style

Modern Prose Style

Modern Prose Style

Excerpt

We read for pleasure, but then we do not read for only one sort of pleasure, and we get different enjoyments from different kinds of writing. We do not, for instance, read a novel of Hardy's for the same reason that we devour detective fiction. Yet perhaps even those such different forms have something in common to make us read them both -- they both take us away from the immediacies of our lives. As we read them we are, as it were, shut up in a box with this other world; we forget the things which we have to do, while the things which fret us are miraculously dissolved. A novel by Hardy, however, tells us something about life, it reveals our own emotions to us in revealing the emotions of other people: in reading it we actually live another life, gain fresh experience; we are enriched. That is part of the pleasure that belongs to it. We read, then, from a variety of motives, perhaps to learn, as we do, say, Sir James Jeans' The Universe Around Us; we read to feel, we read to forget. Nor are these emotions separated, for we may take up a book from many impulses, all urging us at the same time.

But there is one thing which we do every time we read, whether we are aware of it or not: we come into contact with the personality of the writer. We enlarge our acquaintance, and by so doing we enter farther into life, and however little we may mean to, we enlarge our own personality, at least if the writer whose book we are reading himself possesses a personality of any value at all. Any book of which we say to ourselves . . .

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