7 February 2013

A Special Training

George Gissing in The Art of Authorship, ed. George Bainton (New York, D. Appleton & Co., 1890), pp. 83-84:
I believe there are persons extant who undertake to instruct young men in the art of journalistic composition. Without irony, it would interest me much to be present at such a lesson. Does the teacher select a leading article from, say, The Daily Telegraph, and begin: 'Come now, let us note the artifices of style whereby this writer recommends himself to the attention of the public'? Well, if a man of ripe intelligence could have taken me at the age of twenty, and have read with me suitable portions of Sir Thomas Browne, of Jeremy Taylor, of Milton's prose, of Steele, De Quincey, Landor, Ruskin — to make a rough list of names — that, I think, would have been a special training valuable beyond expression.
You know, of course, the little volume of selections from Landor, in the 'Golden Treasury' series. Could a young man whose thoughts are running on style do better than wear the book out with carrying it in his side pocket, that he might ponder its exquisite passages hour by hour?