Sign in  |  Register

The New Criterion

It operates as a refuge for a civilizing element in short supply in contemporary America: honest criticism
- The Wall Street Journal

Features

June 2011

Heavy sentences

by Joseph Epstein

On How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish.

After thirty years of teaching a university course in something called advanced prose style, my accumulated wisdom on the subject, inspissated into a single thought, is that writing cannot be taught, though it can be learned—and that, friends, is the sound of one hand clapping. A. J. Liebling offers a complementary view, more concise and stripped of paradox, which runs: “The only way to write is well, and how you do it is your own damn business.”

Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature. Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ...

This article is available to subscribers and for individual purchase

Subscribe to TNC (Print and Online editions)

Subscribe to TNC (Online only)

Purchase article credit and clip this article

If you already have an account login first

Joseph Epstein is the author of Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).


more from this author

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 29 June 2011, on page 4

Copyright © 2014 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com

http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Heavy-sentences-7053

E-mail to friend


The New Criterion

By the author

The James cult

by Joseph Epstein

On the work of Henry James, and his loyal following.

A serious man

by Joseph Epstein

The friendship, work, and life of Hilton Kramer.

The long, unhappy life of Saul Bellow

by Joseph Epstein

On the novelist's flaws, foibles & fallings-out.

You might also enjoy

The ambiguous witness of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

by James Nuechterlein

The complicated legacy of the anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

A schoolboy’s guide to war

by Andrew Stuttaford

How England's public school boys won the First World War.

King cotton

by Gene Dattel

The story of cotton reveals that America's problematic history with race is just as much a northern problem as a southern one.

Most popular

view more >

Subscribe to our newsletter!

* indicates required

Events

November 12 2014

Friends and Young Friends Event: Book Launch Party with Andrew Roberts


Webcasts

The Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity
On May 5, 2014, The New Criterion and PJ Media presented the second Walter Duranty Prize for Journalistic Mendacity. The award is given to highlight egregious examples of dishonest reporting. Also awarded this year was the Rather, a new award for lifetime achievement in mendacious journalism.
The Duranty Prize is named after Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow corresponded in the 1920s and 1930s who whitewashed Joseph Stalin’s forced starvation of the Ukrainians (the Holodomor) and many other aspects of Soviet oppression. Duranty was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for his efforts. It has never been revoked.
Audio copyright Ed Driscoll, www.eddriscoll.com.


Introduction to The Kennedy Phenomenon
Roger Kimball introduces The Kennedy Phenomenon, a conference presented by The New Criterion on Tuesday, November 19.


The Kennedy Phenomenon: "Watching the Kennedy Train-Wreck"
Roger Kimball reads Peter Collier’s paper on oft-overlooked unsavory details of the Kennedys' lives. Much of the paper is drawn from Collier’s book, coauthored with David Horowitz, The Kennedys: An American Drama.