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Thread: How Does Today's Writing Differ from 19/20th Century Writing?

  1. #16
    Registered User headers's Avatar
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    Charles you made really interesting observation. One thing that I would like to add is that the language. Now the language is quite much changed. But due to this you can not say that now there is not enough good writing. You can cal it different but not useless or non interesting.

  2. #17
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    I would say there is no difference whatsoever apart from the style of writing. the content is still the same. it has not changed.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    good
    it fly

  3. #18
    User Name is backwards :( Eman Resu's Avatar
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    According to the most recently published (June, 2011) I.E.L.T.S. (International English Language Testing System) findings "...in the last 50 years, the average working vocabulary of a 15 year old has decreased from 25,000 words to just 10,000 words," hence we might infer that both writer and audience have suffered at least minimally at the hands of the Common Denominator Effect, and that has been a lexiconic change (Aside: The Bard's estimated vocabulary is most often expressed as "c. 290,000 words;" Winston Churchill's as "400,000 words.") Given that two short centuries ago in America, collegial entry examinations required that the prospective student possess a mastery of Greek, Latin and English grammar, to be able to read three orations from Cicero's De Officiis and Virgil’s Æneid in the original Latin, and to evidence the ability to translate the first ten chapters of one of the four Gospels from Greek into Latin, the above remarks suggesting a decline in the "quality" of contemporary writing are probably readily justifiable.

    Directly to Charles Darnay's assertion, "Let's start with the advent of the novel (18th century - with a few pre-cursers in the late 17th century):"

    Why begin the examination here? The novel as a literary form has been in existence since the high Medieval period, and with the advent of printing by moveable type in the second half of the fifteenth century, had spread with some prolificity to the educated class, inclusive of Diego de San Pedro's Cárcel de Amor, Joanot Martorell's Tirant lo Blanc, Fernando de Rojas' Calisto and Melibea (i.e. Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea or Comedia de Calisto y Melibea), Poliphilo's Dream (Hypnerotomachia Poliphili), and coutless others which were already in print in the dwindling years of the fifteenth century. If the intent was to examine solely the sources of the English language novel form, why not begin with Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, whose first English language edition was printed in 1485, then delve into the early genre novels like Baldwin's Beware The Cat (Horror Fiction), Lyly's Euphues: The Anatomy of Wyt and Euphues and his England (both Modernist Romance), Sidney's The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (Adventure Fiction), Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller(Jack Wilton) and other sixteenth century novels? Overlooking the origin of the novel form might prove just a trifle shortsighted when examining the relationship between nineteenth century and contemporary fiction.

    Also aside: the entendre "pre-cursers" for 'precursors' is amusing in light of the vernacular which often passes for literature these days, but Geoffrey Chaucer was writing "cursers" - or at least some mighty randy prose - in the mid-fourteenth century.

  4. #19
    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
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    I have a book of Australian newspaper articles from the 1840's to today, two pages for each year. The change of language is stark.

    Florid and formal are the older articles, matter-of-fact and simplified are the newer ones. I love watching Victorian dramas for the florid and formal language, whilst modern mini-series like Fargo I watch for the more amusing content which couldn't be made in Victorian times though the language is ordinary.

  5. #20
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    Yours truly subscribe to the argument that things were different. Information intake is up. There are various outlets for entertainment and competing interests.

    So reading a dusty old tome is probably only an exercise in historical pass-time-- if you enjoy 19th meditations on Russian aristocracy, no judgment here. Italo Calvino in his Harvard lectures wrote about the benefits of lightness, versus the density of what we call 'literature.'

    A 600 page philosophical novel that's heavy on meditation and light on plot is probably unpublishable today. And yours truly makes the argument that it just shouldn't exist because none of you have anything '600 pages' important to say because you grew up in the common culture and it's molded you all into jerks anyway (writers).

    Case in point, DFW.

    (DFW hate time!)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLPStHVi0SI

    "What I was doing was closer to math than philosophy."

    YOU WEREN'T DOING MATH. But saying what you're doing is kind of like math is an appeal to the authority of math, like basking in its halo gives aires of rigor and productivity and meaning. That kind of mental contortion maybe makes you post-modern, or at least Generation X. 600+ pages of how important your almost-like-math thoughts are.

    We are all, by degrees, DFW. And that's why none of us should write books. No one currently living should write books anymore. We should all just be quiet for a while, maybe thumb through a magazine or something, also quietly, until death takes us.






    J

  6. #21
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    What pessimism, Jack! I don´t know what DFW means, talking through acronyms is certainly an invention of more recent times. I partly agree with you, but one shouldn´t throw the towel before the time.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 05-27-2016 at 11:34 PM.
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  7. #22
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    Sorry

    Cranky Jack.






    J

  8. #23
    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    A couple of things. Newspapers often paid their reporters and columnists by the word in Victorian times, hence wordy articles.

    Also, the last three modern books we've read at book club have been first person and present tense - eg "I enter the house, it's dark." I can't think of any classic that does that, and to be honest it doesn't always work well.
    ay up

  9. #24
    Registered User New Secret's Avatar
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    I remember looking at posterboard advertisements made during the 1870s through the 1890s and they used really long compound English words like, "It was Supersplendalicious! Exhilerationism is Awesome Pandamoniumness!" Lots of ridiculous crap like that. Specifically, the one I remember the most was a boxing advertisement with New York Irishmen "putting their dukes up".

  10. #25
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    It´s ok, Jack!
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 05-31-2016 at 10:57 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
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  11. #26
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of Hearts View Post
    Sorry

    Cranky Jack.






    J
    It´s ok, Jack!
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by prendrelemick View Post
    A couple of things. Newspapers often paid their reporters and columnists by the word in Victorian times, hence wordy articles.

    Also, the last three modern books we've read at book club have been first person and present tense - eg "I enter the house, it's dark." I can't think of any classic that does that, and to be honest it doesn't always work well.
    Yeah, can that even be done well?

    But it works well when spoken, right? Like anecdotes?


    J

  13. #28
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    If I were to temporarily exclude some of the more prominent experimentalists I would say the tendency has been towards greater simplicity of sentence structure and a largely drumming down of vocabulary. There are however far more types of writing being published daily than in the 18th/19th centuries. So there are still many writers who are dealing with complex and intricate thoughts in complex vocabulary and complex sentences. I guess we need a bit of both. The references to journalism in this thread are very apposite.

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