Barbara Pym: Stylist

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Barbara Pym: Stylist

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Oct 21, 2010, 11:04 am

I have just finished reading Simon Heffer's new book, Strictly English. It is a useful guide to grammar, vocabulary and the perils of punctuation, but there is little evidence of wit or life in Heffer's own writing. What a pleasant surprise then, to find (almost at the end of the book) that he considers Barbara Pym to be among the outstanding exponents of twentieth century English writing. Heffer's other two model-stylists are George Orwell and Enoch Powell. What a remarkable threesome they make!

Oct 21, 2010, 11:40 am

Scary - agreeing with Simon Heffer on even one point out of three would be bad enough, but both Pym and Orwell definitely deserve to be in there.

Oct 21, 2010, 12:17 pm

Enoch Powell? I predict rivers of ink!

Oct 21, 2010, 12:40 pm

>3 krolik:
Nah, we'll just get one of those tragic and intractable phenomena which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic.

I think Powell was quite highly regarded as a writer, but I haven't seen enough of his work to judge. Simon Heffer, as his biographer, has nothing to lose by talking him up a bit, of course.

Oct 25, 2010, 2:33 pm

Don't know Powell's work at all, but my personal tastes run to the kind of style exemplified by Barbara Pym--clear, economical, and a nice touch of irony without being condescending. Orwell doesn't quite fit in that camp--based on what I've read--but I do like his style also. I suppose I should check out somethong by Powell--any suggestions?