William safire essays on language

Evan Connell said once that he knew he was finished with a short story when he found himself going through it and taking out commas and then going through the story again and putting the commas back in the same places. I like that way of working on something. I respect that kind of care for what is being done. That's all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer's own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason -- if the worlds are in any way blurred -- the reader's eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved. Henry James called this sort of hapless writing “weak specification.”

SH: Yes, yes, yes, I think it’s because if you cloak yourself in a kind of populism then it works or can work. You notice, for example, that the right-wing ideologues in this country now always brandish a kind of working class …and none of these guys are working-class guys. They all come out of eastern universities and often from very wealthy families. But in order to make it stick they pose in a way as regular guys (laughs).

William safire essays on language

william safire essays on language

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