Author Topic: [Dickens or Bulwer?] Great prose or crap  (Read 9499 times)

Barry Toogood

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[Dickens or Bulwer?] Great prose or crap
« on: March 27, 2006, 06:18:48 AM »
I got 83%, which was better than I thought.  I've grown to love Dickens as I grew older (having been put off at school in the sixties when he was deeply unfashionable).  I now think perhaps it's time to give Bulwer-Lytton a try-out.  I'm not sure his purple prose is significantly worse than many - if not most - contemporaries, and he can sustain the reader's understanding through a very lengthy sentence with multiple subordinate clauses.  A skill sadly lacking in many modern writers - especially puffed-up journalists.


This post is about the Great prose or not? quiz --admin

Zarka

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both were pretty crappy to me
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2006, 05:14:33 PM »
I liked some of the sentences, didn't like others....I just chose the ones that seemed to convey a clearer meaning, and compelled me to read onward to Dickens and the ones which were hard to follow to Bulwer.
Got 7/12 wrong.

You state that he's the "worst" writer as if it were fact. Just because a bad contest is named after him doesn't excuse every other bad writer from shame, and it certainly doesn't excuse the good writers from generating a few clunkers.

I had to wonder if you chose particularly bad Dickens and particularly good Bulwer. I don't read either, so I don't have a clue.
How DID you choose the passages?

ewwall

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One man's great prose is another man's crap
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2006, 07:08:46 AM »
I got a 50%.  My cat could do that well.  The wine experts say a peek at the label is worth a thousand sips, and that seems to hold here.  As a classicist I'm frequently called on to teach stuff I think is wretched, just because it's old.  Have to say I'm getting to where I think more of Pindar than I do of Homer.

Mikhail Simkin

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Re: both were pretty crappy to me
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2006, 04:01:57 PM »
Quote from: "Zarka"
I had to wonder if you chose particularly bad Dickens and particularly good Bulwer. I don't read either, so I don't have a clue. How DID you choose the passages?

I selected representative samples from both of the writers.

joe

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Re: both were pretty crappy to me
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2006, 08:45:57 AM »
Quote from: "Mikhail Simkin"
Quote from: "Zarka"
I had to wonder if you chose particularly bad Dickens and particularly good Bulwer. I don't read either, so I don't have a clue. How DID you choose the passages?

I selected representative samples from both of the writers.


It seems fairly difficult to choose fairly representative passages in one paragraph.  There are too many things that need to be taken into consideration, such as narrator or speaker of the paragraph.  Part of what is going on and what separates the good from the bad is these kind of issues.

If you gave brief character or narrator sketches before each passage the test would become more critical and (if it is really possible to put literature into science) more scientific.  For instance if one knew that a character like pip was was the narrator of the passage with the goblin snot on the window it would be perfect (a great passage anyway--why would anyone call it tripe?).

This being said I am not a Victorean and I think that the distinctions drawn between artist and hack are often too sharply drawn--Quantity often will yield quality.