The varying patterns in the development of English prose from the discursiveness of the fourteenth century to the directness of the twentieth are outlined in this book. The author points out that prose has always developed more slowly and uncertainly than poetry; it has often been hampered, for instance, by a notion that it was different from conversation, more elaborate and deliberate. One of the first and greatest difficulties in the development of English prose style was to create and build a language with its own rhythms against the influence of Norman French and Latin. As he traces the course of English prose history, the author quotes for example an analysis from Sidney, Lyly, Bacon, Hooker, Bunyan, Hobbes, Dryden, Defoe, Meredith, James, D.H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and others.
About the author
James Sutherland, formerly Lord Northcliffe Professor Modern Literature at London University, was the editor of The Oxford Book of English Talk and the author of numerous books about literature.
“Anybody who cares about English prose, whether as an art or as an instrument, will find [this book] provocative of thought.”
Times Literary Supplement