George Henry Lewes.

The Principles of Success in Literature online

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refreshed and strengthened by his frank portraiture of the most
ordinary features of his brother monks, of the recorded peculiarities
of ungainly sanctity; but the modern German and Raphaelesque schools
lose all honour and nobleness in barber-like admiration of handsome
faces, and have in fact no real faith except in straight noses and
curled hair. Paul Veronese opposes the dwarf to the soldier, and the
negress to the queen; Shakspeare places Caliban beside Miranda, and
Autolycus beside Perdita; but the vulgar idealist withdraws his beauty
to the safety of the saloon, and his innocence to the seclusion of the
cloister; he pretends that he does this in delicacy of choice and
purity of sentiment, while in truth he has neither courage to front the
monster nor wit enough to furnish the knave.'' [Ruskin].

And how is Variety to be secured? The plan is simple, but like many
other simple plans, is not without difficulty. It is for the writer to
obey the great cardinal principle of Sincerity, and be brave enough to
express himself in his own way, following the mood of his own mind,
rather than endeavouring to catch the accents of another, or to adapt
himself to some standard of taste. No man really thinks and feels
monotonously. If he is monotonous in his manner of setting forth his
thoughts and feelings, that is either because he has not learned the
art of writing, or because he is more or less consciously imitating the
manner of others. The subtle play of thought will give movement and
life to his style if he do not clog it with critical superstitions. I
do not say that it will give him grace and power; I do not say that
relying on perfect sincerity will make him a fine writer, because
sincerity will not give talent; but I say that sincerity will give him
all the power that is possible to him, and will secure him the
inestimable excellence of Variety.


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Online LibraryGeorge Henry LewesThe Principles of Success in Literature → online text (page 11 of 11)