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Thread: Writers/Authors with an elegant style of composition?

  1. #1
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    Writers/Authors with an elegant style of composition?

    Hi, I'm new to the studying of English literature--having read some selected works from here and there in the past. Can some experts (teachers) in this field recommend a place or two for me to start? I do not find contemporary (popular) writing styles "visually" stimulating (where words seemed to have become engineering tools involuntarily enchained to the process of construction/composition--losing their intrinsic, aesthetic appeal)--true, one can get a message across (informational, inspirational) employing common (everyday) language, but that would be like designing a building--stressing utility, whilst dismissing beauty (a worthy pursuit in itself).

    I appreciate your advice!

    PS By the way, my native language is Chinese (a literary language by nature--each individual character (building block) is like a condensed/concentrated version of certain underlying/unifying ideas/themes manifested at large--a small universe within itself--perfect for poetry).
    Last edited by new_dew; 06-03-2011 at 05:17 AM.

  2. #2
    weer mijn koekjestrommel Schokokeks's Avatar
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    Hi new_dew!

    As you don't specify whether you'd prefer to read poetry, drama or a novel next, I'll try to give you one suggestion for each genre :-):

    Poetry: If you're looking for "elegant" (and possibly intricate), how about John Donne or TS Eliot?
    Drama: The obvious place to start would be Shakespeare, he's elegant enough! ;-) How about Hamlet? If that isn't condensed poetry, I don't know what is...
    Prose: I've always found the "elegant" style of Henry James (Portrait of a Lady, for example, or some of his shorter stories) to be very stimulating, as well as that of Joseph Conrad (eg. The Heart of Darkness).

    Enjoy! ;-)
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  3. #3
    My mind's in rags breathtest's Avatar
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    A contemporary novelist whose prose is very poetic and elegant is Cormac McCarthy. His style is beautiful and vivid.
    'For sale: baby shoes, never worn'. Hemingway

  4. #4
    Registered User laymonite's Avatar
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  5. #5
    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    If you are seeking a more recent writer whose language is poetic in form the first obvious choices would include poets. Among the recent, poets who employ a more "beautiful" use of language I would include: W.B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Walter de la Mere, Basil Bunting, Hugh MacDiarmid, Seamus Heaney, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, e.e. cummings, Charles Olson, Richard Wilbur, Anthony Hecht, John Ashbery, Richard Howard...

    Among writers of prose, I would include the following as some of the most poetic: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Lawrence Durrell, William Faulkner, Vladimir Nabokov, Tennessee Williams, Cormac McCarthy, Thomas Pynchon...

    The problem with Modern/Contemporary writing in English is that beginning with Modernism there was a concerted effort to reject the more poetic, "flowery" aspects of language as something dated. James Joyce is the greatest exception, taking an almost Shakespearean/Baroque pleasure in language and words. By contrast, a great many Modern/Late Modern/Post-Modern writers employ a stripped down language... or contrast the beauty of a more ornate beautiful language with a content that is more harshly "realistic" (or even brutally ugly) as we see with William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy. I would be hard pressed to think of an equivalent in English over the last century for someone like Proust who simply envelopes the reader in his love of evocative language.
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  6. #6
    Oscar Wiilde's writing was elegant.

  7. #7
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    University or my little estate
    Quote Originally Posted by stlukesguild View Post
    I would be hard pressed to think of an equivalent in English over the last century for someone like Proust who simply envelopes the reader in his love of evocative language.
    I would say Fitzgerald, he does not equal Proust in beauty, but nonetheless his prose is lyrical and delicate and beautiful and his prose feels more like prose poesy than prose.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2008
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    I would take a look at some of the Romantics, who, in my opinion, brought the beauty of language to its peak. Writers like (in no particular order of importance or favoritism) Washington Irving, Coleridge, Hawthorne, Melville, and Poe. I'll also second the Fitzgerald and Joseph Conrad recs.

  9. #9
    Moon Goddess crystalmoonshin's Avatar
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    Try Paul Auster's "Moon Palace"
    Vanitas vanitatum, dixit Ecclesiastes, vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas.

    Yo sé quién soy, y sé que puedo ser no sólo los que he dicho. - Don Quixote

  10. #10
    Registered User Chris 73's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    Personal favourites of mine are-
    Angela Carrter
    Ray Bradbury
    Daniel Woodrell
    All have beautiful writing styles.
    Also Robert Holdstock.

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