1. Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.
2. Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)
3. First, one must determine precisely “what-and-what do I wish to say and present,” before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.
4. Since the writer lacks many of the speaker’s means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.
5. The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.
6. Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.
7. Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only that one thinks it but also feels it.
8. The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first entice the senses.
9. Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.
10. It is not good manners or clever to deprive one’s reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one’s reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.
and i’ve immediately come up with a project for myself. which is good and bad because it involves Crime and Punishment and Faust but in the way that it seems you cannot write about one book without writing about seven.
The list of texts I’ll have to discuss so far are: Goethe’s Faust, Crime and Punishment, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Doctor Faustus, and The Master and Margarita.
Although due to the fact that I was initially planning on writing about Crime and Punishment and War and Peace together means that I may have to include War and Peace in this, but perhaps will have to separate the project of the two specific novels into a different project. But at the end of the day, each of these texts is aimed at accomplishing a similar task (I would prefer not to use the word goal) and that is what I hope to focus on.
I guess this is now the…third book I have decided to write?
If Dostoevsky has ever flashed through your mind as an interest, I highly recommend giving the article Paradoxical Dostoevsky by Gary Saul Morson; one of the most eloquent and illustrative pieces I have read written about Dostoevsky. And for my own purposes, it creates a phenomenal stepping stone for comparing Dostoevsky and Nietzsche in a new and playful manner.
To any reader of Dostoevsky’s the presence of paradox is difficult to miss. As Morson notes, a great deal of the time Dostoevsky will narrate what happens by articulating what does not happen, or by listing all the potential possibilities because he himself had not planned how the story would end, so he set himself up for as many possibilities as he could.
It’s almost as though Dostoevsky was playing chess with language whenever he wrote. At the beginning of the text/game, there are many potential moves, and as good chess players know, it’s important to go through all of these potential moves in one’s mind in order to be prepared for whatever your opponent offers. And in this case, Dostoevsky is merely playing chess against himself.
The paradoxes in Dostoevsky are the diving board from which Nietzsche will dive into the abyss, only to find that Dostoevsky is already down there. (Morson even relates the notion of eternal recurrence to Dostoevsky) The humor in Dostoevsky is not as easily found as it is in Nietzsche (although the laughter and pity in Nietzsche have been overlooked until recently). Whether or not it has to do with translations and differing cultural humor is unclear, but if anything the paradoxes should be the first to send the reader into a chuckle.
Continue reading “Paradoxical Dostoevsky by Gary Saul Morson”
My latest article on The Campus Clipper blog: At the End of the Day