It used to be that the Young Writer--or the young person who wanted to become A Writer--was instructed, first and foremost, to "develop a style". On the broad and more pervasive "art appreciation" levels--creative writing courses and the like--this notion still obtains; perniciously so, because preoccupation with 'style' is surely the greatest jeapordy (more so that booze or dope) that exists for a serious writer. One must take care, as the English novelist Henry Green, so aptly put it, "not to become trapped in one's own cliches"; and he went on to illustrate how the work of Henry James, for example, through an ever more relentless refinement of style, finally became quite meaningless.
An informative analogy may be recognized, I believe, when considering the work of a great actor--Brando or Olivier, for instance. Each has scroupulously tried to run the gamut of style. Brando has played a New Orleans Polack, a cowboy, Marc Antony, a Mexican Bandit, a song-and-dance-man, a Japanese houseboy, a German Lieutenant, an American diplomat, an old Italian hood, etc., etc., And Olivier...has played Othello.
Return to Home of Terry Southern