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

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CHAPTER 7: Good Sense and Sincerity

For I hold that man as hateful as the very gates of Hell,

Who says one thing, while another in his heart lies hidden well.

– Homer

SINCERITY, CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, seems one of the subjects on which it is hardest to be sincere. And it grows no easier in an age when, among the glib charges which critics fling at authors, two of the commonest are ‘insincerity’ and ‘sentimentality’.

The veriest fool nowadays, when he happens to dislike a book, is apt to reach out for these two pet missiles.

But what precisely do they mean? In practice, just as Wilde once said vulgarity was other people’s manners, so ‘insincerity’ becomes often a mere term of abuse for other people’s beliefs, ‘sentimentality’ for other people’s ...

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