He who wants to persuade should put his trust not in the right argument but in the right word. The power of sound has always been greater than the power of sense.
The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard.
Good prose should resemble the conversation of a well-bred man.
There follow three longish pieces of writing that I admire very much. Their origins are various: a novel, a newspaper article, a film transcript. But aside from my enjoyment of them-which I hope you will share-they have something in common. Can you identify it?
(Then) the goddam picture started. It was so putrid I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was about this English guy, Alec something, that was in the war and loses his memory in the hospital and all. He comes out of the hospital carrying a cane and limping all over the place, all over London, not knowing who the hell he is. He's really a duke, but he doesn't know it. Then he meets this nice, homey, sincere girl getting on a bus. Her goddam hat blows off and he catches it, and they go upstairs and sit down and start talking about Charles Dickens. He's both their favourite author and all. He's carrying this copy of Oliver Twist and so's she. I could've puked. Anyway, they fall in love right away, on account of they're both so nuts about Charles Dickens and all, and he helps her run her publishing business. She's a publisher, the girl. Only, she's not doing so hot, because her brother's a drunkard and spends all their dough. He's a very bitter guy, the brother, because he was a doctor in the war and now he can't operate any more because his nerves are shot, so he boozes all the time, but he's pretty witty and all. Anyway, old Alec writes a book, and this girl publishes it, and they both make a hatful of dough on it. They're all set to get married when this other girl, old Marcia, shows up. Marcia was