Essays in the Art of Writing

By Robert Louis

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...Transcribed from the 1905 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org





...

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... 75
A Note on Realism ...

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...ardour
of their pleasure. I must therefore warn that well-known character, the
general reader, that I...

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...in sound,
yet glide from the memory like undistinguished elements in a general
effect. But the...

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...welcome the
successive phrases. The pleasure may be heightened by an element of
surprise, as, very...

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...luminous flow of highly synthetic narrative, there is
implied a vast amount of both philosophy and...

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...new
illustration of the principle involved. For if the versifier is not
bound to weave a...

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...juggler,
behold him now, to the vastly increased enthusiasm of the spectators,
juggling with three oranges instead...

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...in what is technical and executive, being a temporal art, it must
seek for them in...

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...the one forbidden number;
because five is the number of the feet; and if five were...

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...to keep them notably apart, though still
coincident; and to balance them with such judicial nicety...

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...it
may be pertinently asked, Why bad? And I suppose it might be enough to
answer...

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...it will not do to place upon one side. What
is more to our purpose,...

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...very well ask the reader
to help me, I shall do the next best by giving...

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...the open A, already suggested in line two, and both times
(‘where’ and ‘sacred’) in conjunction...

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...Distinction with a loud and powerful fan,
...

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...raised. The army was almost eKsKlusively a Highland army. The
...

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...the ear, without ever allowing them to
fall into the strictly metrical: peculiar to the versifier,...

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...the epithets, a slovenly, base, untrue, and empty
literature. Of that writer himself I am...

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...but it would be better if the stream were
stayed, and the roll of our old,...

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...with the four great
elders who are still spared to our respect and admiration, with Carlyle,
Ruskin,...

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...of the good he might do, the harm he does; judge of it
by one instance...

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...weaving as he goes his theory of life,
steering himself, cheering or reproving others, all facts...

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...the records of the past but, properly
studied, might lend a hint and a help to...

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...taste for high society. So
that the first duty of any man who is to...

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...that, even should the main
design be trivial or base, some truth and beauty cannot fail...

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...from end to end;
or if you propose to enter on the field of controversy, you...

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...a very high degree; which every honest
tradesman could make more serviceable to mankind in his...

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...the good fortune to see, I
must think, in an impressionable hour, played by Mrs. Scott...

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...to see in it those
truths which we are all courteously supposed to know and all...

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...of the sins of genius, breaking open the doors of private
life, and wantonly wounding friends,...

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...next. Every one has been influenced by
Wordsworth, and it is hard to tell precisely...

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...of Obligations’ was a turning-point
in my life, and Penn, whose little book of aphorisms had...

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...to
the mind. A writer learns this early, and it is his chief support; he
goes...

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...wiser or more timid begin to fall a little back from these
extremities; they begin to...

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...unmanly anger with the world,
grafted on the heroic story of the siege of Troy.

This question...

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...towards the academic and the
cut-and-dried. Every fresh work in which they embark is the...

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...a rapture if we think we can muster a dozen or a score of
them, to...

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...all fiery, all hot-pressed from nature, all
charactered and notable, seizing the eye. The style...

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...‘Edward Daven,’ ‘A Country Dance,’ and ‘A Vendetta in
the West’; and it is consolatory to...

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...for so long a time your puppets are to
be always vital, always consistent, always vigorous!...

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...dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries,
perhaps the _Standing Stone_ or...

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...fire, and the rain
drumming on the window, I began _The Sea Cook_, for that was...

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...for
Billy Bones’s chest to be ransacked, he must have passed the better part
of a day...

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...year; my father had quite recently bought back and cancelled a
book that was judged a...

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...it brought (or, was the
means of bringing) fire and food and wine to a deserving...

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...should all be beyond cavil. And how troublesome the moon is!
I have come to...

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...sense of isolation.
For the making of a story here were fine conditions. I was...

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...not tell my brothers of the craft that I was now in
the most interesting moment...

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...aware of a tall shadow
across my path, the shadow of Barry Lyndon. No man...

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...is content to be his present self; there he is smitten with
an equal regret for...

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...You see, I succeeded to a prodigious
accumulation of old law-papers and old tin boxes, some...

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...and at last hit
upon that packet which (if you have had enough wine) I propose...

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...would have all literature bald,
and all authors (if you like) but one.’

‘Well, well,’ said Mr....