[PDF Notes] Get complete information on different Styles in Literature

Style is the way in which we write. It is, however, a great deal more than freedom from obvious faults, such as prolixity and obscurity. “Style is the body to which thought is the soul and through which it expresses itself’.

Of the soul the body form doth take;

For soul is form and doth the body make.

The Elements of Style:

A good style is an essential part of a good story, A good style is one that is suitable for its purpose. There are two main elements of style – (1) Choice of ideas, and (2) Expression ideas, though in the best styles the two are inseparably interwoven.

Choice of Ideas:

The writer’s aim is to impart information. For him there is scarcely any choice: the facts are there and he has merely to state them. But as soon as he wishes to interest or amase, persuade or sadden, a writer has to select his facts.

He may merely state general principles; he may illustrate general principles by particular cases. Not that detail is always desirable; Macaulay has pointed out that Milton, instead of giving exact details, uses “dim intimations”, So that Heaven and Hell, angels and devils are for us remoter and sublime, shrouded in mystery.

He, above the rest

In shape and gesture proudly eminent,

Stood like a tower. His form had yet not lost.

All her original brightness, nor appeared

Less than Archangle ruined and the excess

Of glory obscured.

Thus he does not give us a clear picture of Satan; but we can see this in Keat’s Autumn-

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find,

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by tyhe winnowing wind;

Or on a half- reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies.

Keats has the power of visualisation; he makes us see Autumn because he himself sees her more clearly than if she were actually a living person before him. “This power of visualation varies immense in individuals; some of us have a bright mental in image of our uncle or the cook as soon as we have their names, others can with difficulty recall whether their noses turn up or down. But none of us can hope to equal Chaucer and Dickens, whose slightest sketches have startling aliveness”.

The Expression of Ideals :

The charm of all writing is a nice, mingling of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Good style is in the main a matter of the prefect use of contrast and similarity, the new and the old.

In the sphere of expression, repetition – either of idea or of phrase – is perhaps the simplest. The great poets can get from it an exquisite music and a wonderful suggestiveness. Take Tennyson’s Break, break, break.

Break, break, break,

On thy cold gray stones, O sea!

And I would that my tongue could utter

The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman’s boy,

That he shouts with his sister at play!

O well for the sailor lad

That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on

To their haven under the hill;

But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,

And the sound of a voice that still!

The Spenserian Style :

The Spenserian style is the style of a lover of beautiful sights and sounds, rather than that of a thinker of profound thoughts. Take the following stanza from the Faerie Queen-

The sight of whom, though now decayed and mard,

And eke but hgardly seene by candle-light,

Yet, like a Diamond of rich regard,

In doubtful shadow of the darksome night,

With starrie beames about her shining bright,

These merchants fixed eyes did so amaze,

That what through wonder and what through delight,

A while on her they greedily did gaze,

And did her greatly like and did her greatly praise.

Literary Theory and Criticism

Thus we find that in this style, there is the easy, unhasting, and untiring pace- a pace largely due to the metre. It has a great contrast with the heroic-couple of Pope, a form where at the end of every two lines we seem to have reached the end of the poem!

The Elizabethan Sonneteer’s Style :

The Elizabethan sonneteers adopt the style of the conventional amorist. Some of them go so far as to borrow both sentiments and phrasing from foreign poets; nearly all of them address similar calmly perfervid appeals to similar inexorable mistresses, “The lady’s eyes are always stars, her cheeks always roses, her lips always cherries”.

Conceited Style :

A figure of speech or ‘conceit’ is twisted and turned and squeezed till the last drop of sense is extracted. Thomas Campion’s “There is garden in her face” is a case in point. Conceits were not, of course, confined to love-poems: they are found almost ever where in Elizabethan verse; Shakespeare’s Richard II and his early plays are full of them.

The Metaphysical Style :

It is said that the metaphysical style began with Donne and the ordinary metaphors and similes had become common places; they were to the man with an imagination what plain, unfigurative speech is to us. When he felt truly poetical, his mind ‘jumped off’ from the ordinary analogies and comparisons to something more remote. At his best, the metaphysical poet is sublimely daring.

The weakness of the metaphysical poet was when his imagination failed to work, he used his ingenuity instead. There is the extravagance in language which lacks the charm of the earlier Elizabethan excesses, because it is less spontaneous.

Euphuistic Style :

Euphuism has been derived from Lyly’s work. We get Euphuism with its elaborate cross- alliteration, its play on words, its antitheses, its endless comparisons drawn from “unnatural natural history”.

“Though Aeneas was too fickle to Dido, yet Troylus was too faithful to Cresside; though others seem counterfeit in their deeds, yet, Lucilla, persuade yourself, that Euphues will be always current in his dealings”.

Arcadian Style :

The term ‘Arcadian is from Sidney. Arcadianlism lies in its laboured elegance, in its compound words, in its comparisons of the natural to the artificial and in its idyllic pastoralism-

“There were…meadows enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets which, being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so to by the cheerful disposition of many well-turned birds; each pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs with bleating oratory craved the dam’s comfort”.

The Epigrammatic Style :

The epigrammatic style was taken up and modified by the writers of Characters (1614 and on). They gave it a more familiar tone and increased the number and audacity of the conceit, until they came to write what may almost be called metaphysical prose.

“A gallant is one that was born and shapt for his c’oathes; and if Adam had not faine, had liv’d to no purpose.

A Cooke:

The Kitchen is his Hell and hee the Divell in it, where his meate and he frye together. Architectural Prose Style

The prose that owed a great deal to Bacon in vocabulary and in sentence structure but more to Latin is the architectural prose. In this style, the writer used his words to build great arches and pinnacles of sound’ Milton’s was of this order; so was Browne’s. “But Browne had in addition much of the subtlety of thought, the old imagination of the best metaphysical poets”.

“Afflictions induce callosities; miseries are slippery or fall like snow upon us, which notwithstanding is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision in nature, whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days and, our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrance, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions., man is a noble animal, splendid in ashes and pompous in the grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with equal luster, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infamy of his nature”.

The Gentlemanly Style :

Dryden’s prose is the gentlemanly style of prose, full of a cultured common sense and an easy mastery of the language.

“But enough of this; there is such a variety of game springing up before me, that I am distracted in my choice and know not which to follow. ‘This sufficient to say according to the proverb, that here is God’s plenty. We have our forefathers and great-grand-dames all before us as they were in Chucer’s days”.

Johnsonian Style :

Doctor Johnson was a sturdy classicist. He had read widely among the Elizabethans and Jacobeans and Browre was one his favourite writers. His style was apt to be mechanically balanced and rather heavy, but it was nervous, manly and forcible, rhetorical in the best sense.

Holling worth suggests about the prose-style of Burke, Gibbon, Scott, Macaulay and Lamb as follows:-

Dr. Johnson was not, of course, the sole early representative of the re-action- Burke brought back some of the old wild audacity of imagination; Gibbon, who owed not a little to Johnson, brought a certain gorgeousness of diction and rhythm and more than the old fullness of thought and learning- but Johnson was by far the most influential.

He remained the Dictator in letters, at least as far as Academies for young Ladies were concerned, till well on into the next century; even Scott not infrequently falls into the varies Johnsonese and Macaulay owes most of his characteristic virtues as well as most of his characteristic faults to the Doctor.

By the time Scott died, English prose had almost achieved the infinite variety of the Elizabethan period. There was the whimsical style of Lamb, which owed something to many writers-especially to Browne- but yet remained intensely original, allusive, humorous, pathetic, full of quaint imaginings and irrelevant relevancies, a style to which something is owed by almost every subsequent writer of such essays as are primarily works of art.

De Quincey’s Prose-poetry Style :

De Quincey’s prose-poetry style aimed deliberately at introducing into prose the imagination and the magniloquence at that time generally associated only with verse. His style is the parent of Ruskin’s purple patch and some sort of relation to Pater’s and Wilde’s and Galsworthy’s aesthetic styles. Mark the following extract from De Quincey’s work-

“Vain prayer! Empty adjuration! Profitless rebellion against the laws which season all things for the inexorable grave! Yet not the less we rebel again and again; and though wisdom counsels resignation, yet our human passions, still cleaving to their object, force us into endless rebellion”.

Grotesque Style of Carlyle :

In contrast to the simple style of Landor, Carlyle’s style is grotesque, disjointed, vivid, full of queer compounds and queer words, odd inversions and odder omissions of the less important parts of speech. His style is perhaps overloud, over-emphatic, but thoroughly alive

“Johnson’s youth was poor, isolated, hopeless, very miserable …The largest soul that was in all England; and provision made for it of four pence-half penny a day? Rude, stubborn, self help here; a whole world of squalor, rudeness, confused misery and want, yet of nobleness and mindfulness withal.

Dicken’s Prose Style :

To some extent, akin to Carlyle’s style, Dickens has the mastery of the grotesque and the force, but there is nothing of the merely eccentric in his prose. He believes in detailed description. “Whereas Carlyle’s influence on style has been almost wholly bad-even Meredith learnt as many faults as virtues from him -Dickens has formed a good model for hundreds of beginners and has taught much too many, such as Chesterton, who are not beginners.

The New Cryptic Style :

The new cryptic style has an application to thought and speech of the new realism. Side by side with it, the realism of description continues which borrows some of its neighbour’s economy of words Mark the following extracts, one from Meredith and the other from Sinclair Lewis.

1. She begged a day’s delay; which would enable her, she said, to join them in dining at the Blachington’s and seeing dear Lakelands again. “I was invited, you know”. She spoke in childish style and under her eyes she beheld her father and mother exchange loops.

2. Under the rolling clouds of prairie a moving mass of steel. An irritable clink and rattle beneath a prolonged roar. The sharp scent of oranges cutting the soggy smell of sunbathed people and ancient baggage.

Towns are plan less as scattering of paste board boxes on an attic floor. The stretch of faded gold stubble broke only clumps of willows encircling white housed and red barns.

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