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Is eloquence dead? 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
beamjockey wrote:
Peter Scott wrote:
I recall children's books from the 1920s that employed constructions likely now nor permitted in any books.


Is this one of them?


That's just a typo for "not".

I would employ some sort of snarky comment at this point but I see Jim moved this out of the forum that permits insults so I shall have to say, "Jolly well played, old sport," or something like that.


Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:03 pm
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
Peter Scott wrote:
beamjockey wrote:
Peter Scott wrote:
I recall children's books from the 1920s that employed constructions likely now nor permitted in any books.

Is this one of them?
That's just a typo for "not".

I would employ some sort of snarky comment at this point but I see Jim moved this out of the forum that permits insults so I shall have to say, "Jolly well played, old sport," or something like that.

I couldn't resist. Seemingly of their own volition, my hands moved to the keyboard.

Straight-lines have that effect on me...

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Wed Jun 10, 2009 4:52 am
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
I teach English to accelerated eighth graders as well as to college freshman. Let's put aside the freshman for awhile, as my journal topic on "What is your all time favorite book and why?" was met with blank stares and a request to be able to write about their favorite movies instead.

The brighter than most eighth graders mostly read, or they wouldn't be in the program I teach. Some of them get eloquence. I have given some of them Maya Angelou's essays (she does eloquence well, I think). Some like poetry, many do. For the most part, though, forget classics--even children's classics. Those who liked Huckleberry Finn were a very small majority, and my son is included, and I wouldn't put it past him to be sucking up to me. We had to take Lost Horizons out of the curriculum because so many of the kids didn't get it. They do like To Kill a Mockingbird, and subversive that I am, I have had Tunnel in the Sky on my summer reading list for the past ten years. I tried Citizen of the Galaxy, but too many just couldn't grok it in all fullness. Ditto on Starman Jones

Eloquence is old school. Ditto advanced vocabulary and books that make students work to get them. They'll read Harry Potter (well, so will I!) They'll read Midnight (sorry; can't do it), some will read the more thought-provoking books I suggest, but for the most part, no.


Sun Jul 26, 2009 7:02 pm
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
My kids did not seem to really learn to appreciate eloquence until they were at least in high school - I was mainly referring to adults. The oldest did not really speak with eloquence until he has over 20, at least to me. I see very very few eloquent (or even pithy) snippets in popular media, yet what started this thread was a newscast broadcast to the general public in the 40's.

I actually do not see a lot of popular media actually, and it is possible that it is there and I just do not see it.


Thanks,

Audrey


Sun Jul 26, 2009 10:17 pm
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
BillPatterson wrote:
I tried, believe me, to swring out any eloquence I could for this biography; I don't mean frilly words, but matching the man's rational sentiment in its larger context, and getting to the core of the meaning of the thing. That's exactly what has been put most under attack by the editors.
You can't have eloquence if they won't let it be published.

I was blown away by the readability of Patterson's The Martian Named Smith, especially considering the level of scholarly dissection, and the (necessary) references to works I've never read or heard of. The book is also structured brilliantly. I'm sure the upcoming biography will be great.


Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:56 pm
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PITA Bred
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
He had a better publisher for MNS.

:D


Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:05 pm
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Heinlein Nexus

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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
I've been thinking about this issue of eloquence, and a few things sprung to mind in terms of the American experience.

1) We've had a culture growing since the 1940s that is based on the smart-aleck reply, which prides itself on puncturing pomposity -- think the Marx Brothers, and those who followed in their footsteps. Unfortunately, eloquence is often associated with authority (or used to be, when public speaking was an art), and so, I think "plain-speaking" became a way to avoid being made fun of....

2) Hemingway's influence on literary style may be in play here -- while he could be quite eloquent, the move to shorter, simpler sentence construction makes it more difficult for eloquence to emerge.

3) TV does not like eloquence. It's too hard to produce that on a regular basis...and radio already began the move away from that. Repetition trained an audience to neither expect it or appreciate it. Also, the whole shift from a verbal culture to a visual culture undercuts eloquence.

4) Thousands of writing teachers attacking purple prose may also have undercut eloquence -- it can be hard to distinguish between the two when the culture has a tin ear.

5) We stopped requiring that elementary school kids memorize poetry in reams -- to her dying day, my grandmother could recite a whole book of Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha"...without poetry, there is little chance for eloquence. Ditto when we stopped making children memorize passages from the King James Bible, which used to be the main text to teach reading.

Thoughts?


Thu Jul 30, 2009 6:20 am
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Post Re: Is eloquence dead?
Robert, your example of Hemingway is one that I agree with. His influence on the literary arts especially is underappreciated. Since Hemingway proved that important literary works did not need to be built on inflated prose, his style became ascendant. Hemingway vs. Faulkner is an classic comparison. I admit I prefer Faulkner overall, which is probably why I don't mind when Heinlein gets "wordy," but Hemingway's style is dominant, though not as eloquent.

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Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:21 am
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