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Style: The art of writing well by F. L. Lucas

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CHAPTER 4: Courtesy to Readers (2), Brevity and Variety

Then nothing can be nattier or nicer

For those who like a light and rapid style

Than to trifle with a work of Mr. Dreiser,

As it comes along in waggons by the mile.

He has taught us what a swift selective art meant

By descriptions of his dinner and all that,

And his dwelling which he says is an Apartment,

Because he cannot stop to say ‘a Flat’.

– G. K. Chesterton, Ballad of Abbreviations

‘BREVITIE’, SAYS THE prolix Polonius, ‘is the Soule of Wit.’ He does not mean, of witticisms – true though that would be. He means, the soul of intelligent discussion (in this case, discussion of Hamlet’s sanity). And, as so often, that foolish senior speaks very wisely. It surprises me that ...

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