Questions tagged [style]

Questions related to the style of a literary work or a specific author, i.e. the way in which word choice, sentence structure, imagery, figurative devices, repetition and other aspect of language are used to achieve certain effects.

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Why is Len Deighton so fond of American English?

I am British and have lived in Britain my entire life. I have never heard anyone refer to an estate car as a “station wagon”. I have never heard anyone refer to a criminal as a “hood”. I have never ...
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6 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why does Tolkien use neither quotes nor cursive writing, and all lower-case, in this specific "quote"?

Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: the prancing pony by barliman ...
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1 vote
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What if it were named '*The* Animal Farm'?

This question was inspired by a recent comment to a previous question of mine. In that question, I asked about the literary effect of dropping the articles from titles of novels and films. Even there, ...
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2 votes
1 answer
204 views

What does it mean for literature to be “reflective”?

The book-review and -recommendation site The Storygraph allows users to categorise books in various ways such as adventurous, funny, inspiring, and reflective. Some (fiction) books I know have been ...
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Meaning of dash and initial substitution in Charlotte Brontë's Villette

The usage of dashes to obscure personal/place names and dates in Victorian literature has been widely noted, but I don't feel that the reasons that are usually given help me understand this case. I'm ...
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Why did Tennyson write "The Brook" from the brook's first-person perspective?

In the poem "The Brook", Tennyson speaks about the journey of a small brook which later joins a mighty river. The poem is narrated in the first person by the small brook: I come from haunts ...
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2 votes
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Poems or stories with no repeated words?

I am after a poem/story that has no repetitions in words, further, is this a type of writing style? Are there any famous examples where this is the case? Repetition is the act of repeating or ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Was Shaw's "Arms and the Man" inspired by Shakespeare?

In Act III of the play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw, Sergius says to Louka, If these hands ever touch you again, they shall touch my affianced bride. Those words reminded me of ...
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Why does Tagore not consistently use ‘thou’ when addressing the supreme being in Gitanjali?

The large majority of poems in the English version of Tagore's Gitanjali address a supreme being. Tagore uses the pronouns "thou", "thee" and "thy" in almost all of these ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why are Shakespearean sonnets called Shakespearean sonnets?

The term Shakespearean sonnet is frequently used for sonnets with a particular verse pattern and rhyme scheme, namely ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. But from what I can find with a little reading online, this ...
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2 answers
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To whom does "cheery and sceptical" refer in "The Just Men of Cordova"?

In chapter 12 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing a crowd in a horse racing: There were regular followers of the game who had known no holiday, and had ...
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Why does Poe's "Arthur Gordon Pym" become so Technical and Scientific all of a sudden?

I was re-reading Edgar Allen Poe's magnificently disturbing novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, this last month and began to wonder why suddenly, starting with Chapter 14 and going ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Identify rhetorical/stylistic device in Tanpınar's The Time Regulation Institute

Is this an example of any rhetorical/stylistic device or literary technique? But can one really call it a life? If to live is to endure endless pain and destitution and to suffer humiliation so deep ...
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Why is Szymborska's "Tarsier" sometimes written (in translation) with simplistic grammar?

Szymborska's poem "Tarsier" ("Tarsjusz" in the original Polish) has been translated, in a version that says "Translations and Comments by Magnus J. Krynski and Robert A. ...
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1 answer
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What is the intention and purpose behind the "dash style" book format compared to the "quote style" one?

I'm reading a book which is formatted like this: -- No! said Gandalf, looking around. We must not go further before we have had a sip of the elf water! The old wizard looked very worried. It's ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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How does That Hideous Strength show the influence of Charles Williams?

Wikipedia says, without citation, that C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength was "heavily influenced by the writing of Lewis's friend and fellow Inkling Charles Williams". I did notice that this ...
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Did Maupassant adapt the style and content of his stories to the newspapers that published them?

Guy de Maupassant published his short stories and novellas in newspapers and periodicals such as Le Figaro, Gil Blas, Le Gaulois and L'Écho de Paris before they were published in book form. Le Figaro ...
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2 votes
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Is Williams's This Is Just to Say an imagist poem, an objectivist poem or neither?

The Wikipedia article about the short poem "This Is Just to Say" claims the text is an imagist poem without backing up that claim. Williams contributed to the anthology Des Imagistes, published in ...
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1 answer
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How does The Meursault Investigation reference The Fall?

Kamel Daoud's novel The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, contre-enquête, 2013) is a retelling of and sequel to The Stranger / L'Étranger by Albert Camus. But that is not the only Camus novel it ...
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What features distinguish the hymnic-epic style from Standard Babylonian?

In the general introduction to Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature (third edition, CDL Press, 2005) Benjamin R. Foster discusses the "Akkadian literary languages": The Babylonians ...
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Why is Cormac McCarthy's prose so often described as "sparse"

It is not uncommon to hear the work of American author Cormac McCarthy described as "sparse", "terse", "spartan" or some other similar descriptor. Some examples: An extensive body of criticism ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Did James Joyce's writing style influence Ernest Hemingway?

I'm doing a comparison paper, and I think there is something in common between Joyce's and Hemingway's short story writing: concise but powerful. Is there any evidence that Hemingway's writing style ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Books that are narrated using various points of view of the main characters

I recently read the book The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I found the way the story is told based on the different viewpoints of the main characters very interesting. Is there a name for this ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Why is there no spelling consistency in Robert Ludlum's books?

I just started reading "The Bourne Supremacy" and I see that in some places Robert Ludlum spells things the British way, and in others the American way. For example, on one page you'd see "favorite" ...
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4 votes
1 answer
143 views

Do Orwell's and E. B. White's essays belong to a school?

I have always been charmed by George Orwell's and E. B. White's essays. They're insidiously plain, but extremely pleasant to read. The way that they talk is so different from authors today (for ...
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1 answer
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How's Thomas Babington Macaulay's sentence chiding Samuel Johnson 'a masterpiece of balance'?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D. U. Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013). pp 199-200.         Thomas Babington ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
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Why did Conrad not add commas to lengthy sentences to make them more readable?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D. U. Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013). p. 124.     Listen to the striking ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why don’t writers layer and number lengthy sentences?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D. U. Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013). pp 55-56. Why don’t writers tier long ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why didn't Faulkner split a 118-word sentence into three, In "Barn Burning" when he writes about the boy protagonist?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D. U. Texas at Austin. Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses) (2013). pp 16-17.      I like ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Is there a name for this narrative technique or style?

As I have been recently reading the books and short stories that comprise Eric Flint's 1632/Ring of Fire series, I have noticed a narrative style that I have not seen before. These books are written ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What is the literary effect of dropping articles from titles?

Quite a few novels and films have titles which, if they appeared as phrases in everyday speech or writing, would normally have to be preceded by an article or other determiner. Some examples: Animal ...
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6 votes
2 answers
185 views

Style of poetry that plays with typographic rivers

In typography, rivers, or rivers of white, are gaps in typesetting, which appear to run through a paragraph of text, due to a coincidental alignment of spaces. River (typography), Wikipedia. I was ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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The literary study of scientific argument

I just discovered the book The Literary Structure of Scientific Argument: Historical Studies, edited by Peter Dear (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991). To me, that seems like an oxymoron: how can ...
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4 votes
2 answers
164 views

Why does Dennis Brown say Hughes's Crow is "a sly parody of Eliot's later style"?

In Dennis Brown's The Poetry of Postmodernity, in the chapter dedicated to Ted Hughes' Crow, the author comments: Crow reads like some checklist of postmodernist techniques [...] [Including] ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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Use of "limited third-person point of view", vs "omniscient third person point of view" over the past century or so

I notice that a lot of popular recent fiction, for example Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" , and George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" are written in limited/subjective third-person point of ...
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5 votes
1 answer
237 views

What makes the writing style of The Dynasts so distinctive?

Reading Poetry Foundation's page on Thomas Hardy, I came across this description of his epic drama The Dynasts, set during the Napoleonic Wars and published in 1904-1908: Hardy also pioneered a new ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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(Why) Is there a shift in style in Toll the Hounds?

By and large, I have found the writing style in the Malazan Book of the Fallen to be consistent across the first seven novels. They were all written by Steven Erikson. However, I feel there is a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What is the effect of a text written in present tense and first-person? [closed]

An example of such a text (from Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful): I see men running, staggering, falling I am coughing, retching, choking. I have to breathe now, I can't run without ...
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1 vote
0 answers
28 views

Why are Sidorio chapters narrated in the present tense in Tide of Terror?

Sidorio, the main antagonist of the Vampirates series, has several stand-alone scenes dotted through the second novel, Tide of Terror. Although the series as a whole is almost entirely narrated in the ...
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7 votes
0 answers
126 views

Are positive, parable-like vibes a noted pattern in Russian literature (at least for short stories and anecdotes)?

WARNING! The following post contains minor spoilers about the following books: Mikhail Bulgakov - A Country Doctor's Notebook Bonnie Jo Campbell - American Salvage D. W. Wilson - Once your Break a ...
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5 votes
1 answer
146 views

When did the perspective-switching trend begin?

In many Young Adult novels I have read lately (in the past couple years), the book changes the perspective every chapter (or every page). For instance, The Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon (ISBN: ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Can absence of information be considered a stylistic choice?

In The Road by Cormac McCarthy the names of the man and the boy are never revealed. Would this technically be considered a stylistic choice of the author? I pulled up a definition and it says "Style ...
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10 votes
0 answers
98 views

Are the five narrators in The Fifty Year Sword more than a gimmick?

Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword is told by five narrators whose parts were ostensibly collected in interviews and tightly interleaved. Quoting the first page: Maybe because the history ...
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23 votes
3 answers
8k views

Why doesn't James Joyce ever use quotation marks?

None of his books use quotation marks for direct speech. For example: — Will he come? The jejune jesuit! Ceasing, he began to shave with care. — Tell me, Mulligan, Stephen said quietly. — Yes, my ...
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22 votes
1 answer
417 views

What did Wodehouse say about writing in the first-person?

P. G. Wodehouse is known as a consummate stylist, and a lot is known about how he plotted and wrote his novels. Did he ever say anything about his writing in the first person? I'm particularly curious ...
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4 votes
2 answers
175 views

What is the origin of including formulas in a literary text?

One of the most striking things about Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson was the fact that the novel's text was full of mathematical formulas. In some ways, this approach resembles, for example, ...
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  • 4,186
12 votes
1 answer
166 views

Did Pushkin ever deliberately copy the style of anyone else?

Beginning, or less talented, writers often consciously or subconsciously imitate the style of earlier creators. Are any works by Pushkin (past the age of 20) known to copy someone else's style, ...
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